Portland Residents With Disabilities Sue Over City’s Blocked Sidewalks

by | Sep 8, 2022 | Politics

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — People with disabilities in Portland, Oregon, have sued the city, saying they can’t navigate its sidewalks because of sprawling homeless encampments.The federal class action lawsuit says the city has violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by allowing homeless people’s tents to block city sidewalks, making it difficult for people using wheelchairs, walkers or canes to use them.Advertisement“The entire class of persons with disabilities are regularly deprived of the benefits of services of the city of Portland,” said John DiLorenzo, lead counsel for the plaintiffs.The suit was filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Portland.The plaintiffs include nine people with disabilities and a caretaker. Among the plaintiffs is Keith Martin, a 71-year-old a Portland resident who has used a wheelchair since having a stroke three years ago.“I couldn’t get to my breakfast in the morning because there was a tent covering the whole sidewalk,” Martin said. “I was forced onto the street and narrowly missed a streetcar that came around the corner.”Oregon’s homelessness crisis has been fueled by a housing shortage, the coronavirus pandemic and high drug addiction rates. Federal data from the latest National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that 9% of teens and adults in Oregon had illicit drug use disorders in 2020. That year, the state also ranked last in access to drug addiction treatment, according to the survey.AdvertisementThe class action suit seeks to require the city to clear all sidewalks of tent encampments and debris, and to “construct, purchase, or otherwise provide for emergency shelters in which to house the unsheltered persons” who may be affected.Such measures would make sidewalks accessible for people with disa …

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