Portland settles suit over homeless sweeps, changes rules

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The city of Portland, Oregon, has settled with a group of people who sued over the way the city conducts homeless sweeps.

The class-action lawsuit, filed last year, alleged city contractors were illegally discarding the personal belongings of people living outdoors while dispersing homeless encampments, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported.

Plaintiffs said the city failed to properly document property that was removed, and failed to give people a reasonable opportunity to retrieve their belongings.

The city has now implemented a new set of rules dictating why, when and how campsites will be removed.

The lawsuit was dismissed as a result of the new policies; the plaintiffs were not seeking a monetary award. They were represented by the Oregon Justice Resource Center, along with Michael Fuller and the Underdog Law Office.

Under the new rules, the city will provide a 72-hour notice before dispersing an encampment that will include specific details about the area being cleaned up, along with instructions on where removed property will be available for retrieval.

During cleanup, city agents will give people in encampments at least an hour before removing any personal property. And the city is required to maintain a database of all personal property removed from the site.

The city has also agreed not to disperse any encampments during severe winter weather or excessive heat. And all agents performing campsite removal will be trained in crisis intervention.