A Federal Court Rules That It Could Be A Constitutional Violation To Arrest Homeless For Sleeping Outdoors

8th amendment

This week, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court Of Appeals ruled that prosecuting homeless people for sleeping outside might be a violation of the United States Constitution’s Eighth Amendment, which bars cruel and unusual punishment.

According to U.S. News, the Portland, Oregon- based appeals court stated that when homeless shelters had too few beds, “sitting, lying and sleeping on the streets was an ‘unavoidable consequence’ of homelessness, and it would be an Eighth Amendment violation for cities to punish that conduct when their shelters had too few beds.”

The court also stated that : “As long as there is no option of sleeping indoors, the government cannot criminalize indigent, homeless people for sleeping outdoors, on public property, on the false premise they had a choice in the matter.”

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The Right To Counsel Bill

HMLS New Yorker

The recently enacted, Right to Counsel bill, will provide low-income New Yorkers with free legal representation when going through a legal proceeding for an eviction or foreclosure.

The free legal services will be provided for New York residents who do not exceed 200% of the federal poverty line.

According to NY.gov, as of June 30, 2018, the federal income guidelines are as follows:

Household Size=1, Annual Gross Income= $22,311
Household Size=2, Annual Gross Income= $30,044
Household Size=3, Annual Gross Income= $37,777
Household Size=4, Annual Gross Income= $45,510
Household Size=5, Annual Gross Income= $53,243
Household Size=6, Annual Gross Income= $60,976
Household Size=7, Annual Gross Income= $68,709
Household Size=8, Annual Gross Income= $76,442
For Each Additional Member, add $7,733
(Remember, to get the aforementioned free services, the household can earn up to twice the listed gross income.)

According to the Right to Counsel bill, people who exceed the income standards for free representation will receive free legal consultation, although they won’t be represented in court.

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First Offer For The Vulnerable Legislation

NYCHA

According to the New York Daily News, a bill that would allow NYCHA residents with mobility disabilities to move into available accessible apartments is currently under review by Governor Cuomo.

The legislation will reportedly provide mobility-challenged NYCHA residents the right of first refusal to live in apartments located on the lower floors of housing projects.

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NYC’s Smoke-Free Air Act

HMLS New Yorker

Due to the known dangers of second-hand smoke, New York City has enacted laws to combat it. New York City’s Smoke-Free Air Act provides remedies for people who are exposed to second-hand smoke in their living quarters.

According to New York Tenants’ Guide To Smoke-Free Housing, in the event of exposure to second-hand smoke: “Possible legal claims include claims for negligence, trespass, breach of the covenant of quiet enjoyment, nuisance, and violation of the warranty of habitability. If the exposure to secondhand smoke forced you to move out of your apartment, you may also have a claim for constructive eviction.”

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The McKinney-Vento Act & The Education Of Homeless Children

HMLS New YorkerThe McKinney-Vento Act is a federal law that was passed by President Ronald Reagan on July 22, 1987.

The McKinney-Vento Act is a conditional funding act. This means that states that accept funds from the federal government are legally bound by the provisions of the Act. However, there are some states that are noted to have accepted federal funds while failing to comply with the stated terms of the Act.

The Act grants children who live in temporary housing a choice to continue their education at their school or origin (the school they attended when they were permanently housed, or the last school they attended), or at a local school (a school located in the area where they are temporarily housed).

The McKinney-Vento Act also states that students in temporary housing have the right to: “Immediately enroll in school and attend classes; get free transportation to their school of origin; get free transportation to their local school if transportation is provided to other students; get special education services immediately if the student has a current Individual Education Plan (even if the IEP is not available or is from another district); participate in any school activity that is available to other students and get transportation to and from all before- or after-school activities if it is provided to other students; and get free school meals without filling out an application.”

The National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty has reportedly successfully litigated cases against New York, and other localities, that have failed to comply with the Act after receiving federal funding.

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