On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Kenneth Hoyt issued a temporary restraining order preventing Houston-area law enforcement officers from ticketing or arresting anyone who uses a tent on public property.
As part of a lawsuit against the City of Houston, the order was filed on behalf of three indigent individuals, which questions the constitutional validity of two city ordinances targeting the city’s homeless population.
The ACLU of Texas, the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty and the international law firm Dechert LLP called for the restraining order after Houston police raided a homeless campsite.
Lawyers for the homeless advocates and for the City of Houston must now meet with a federal judge to set a date for a full hearing on the case.
Homeless advocate Shere Dore was a primary witness for the plaintiffs.
She told a local TV station she was “glad the system is finally respecting their (the homeless’) rights:”
“I am happy the injunction went in our favor,” Dore said in the interview. “Our homeless have a voice. It’s been a long hard fight.”
Trisha Trigilio, senior staff attorney for the ACLU of Texas, also released a statement on the temporary order through her office:
“We’re delighted the court recognized that homelessness is not and should not be a crime. Seeking shelter is not only a right; it’s also a fundamental human necessity. We call on the City to stop enforcing ordinances that criminalize such a basic human need and seek more compassionate and effective methods for solving Houston’s homelessness problem.”
The terporarliy-blocked ordinance bans temporary shelters, tents and cooking methods in public spaces.
Officials with the City of Houston have yet to comment publicly on the order.