A county in Washington State will pay $250,000 in a homeless sweeps lawsuit

People discuss a lawsuit against the city of Denver over sweeps of homeless encampments. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

City officials in Clark County, Washington have agreed to pay $85,000 to six people whose belongings were cleared out and trashed during sweeps of homeless encampments, plus $165,000 in attorney’s fees, as The Stranger reports.

Earlier this year, the city of Los Angeles agreed to pay $822,000 to settle its own sweeps lawsuit. In Denver, a similar case is set to get underway next week.

What happened in Clark County:

A federal judge found earlier in September that that Clark County work crews had thrown out “tents, stoves, medication, documents and photographs during sweeps from 2012 to 2014,” according to the Associated Press.

“The only evidence in the record is that the County’s employees took all unattended property and then immediately destroyed the property, regardless of whether the property was abandoned,” the judge reportedly wrote.

Some people reportedly said that they left their sites for an hour, only to return and find that the county crews had taken their possessions and would not return them.

Following the judge’s ruling, Clark County leaders agreed to pay out the settlement, The Columbian reported. A new policy would have the government give more warning and do more to preserve people’s belongings

And in Denver:

The plaintiffs in Denver make similar claims – namely, that the city seized goods without due process.

The city contends that it has stored belongings for two months for later retrieval, but Jason Flores-Williams, the attorney bringing the lawsuit, said that he doubts that is true – and that the city hasn’t done enough to provide fair notice and make those goods accessible anyway.

The rulings in the other cases do not directly affect the Denver lawsuit. Read more details of the Denver case in our previous coverage.



Andrew Kenney

Author: Andrew Kenney

Andrew Kenney writes about public spaces, Denver phenomena and whatever else. He previously worked for six years as a reporter at The News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C. His most prized possession is his collection of bizarre voicemail. Leave him one at 303-502-2803, or email akenney@denverite.com.