Monday, March 12, 2018

You're my home

Steven Long was a janitor at CenturyLink Field in Seattle, home of the Seattle Seahawks. As befits many jobs in our society, this one didn't pay Mr. Long enough to afford a place to live. So he lived out of his truck.

In Seattle a car cannot remain parked in the same spot for more than 72 hours (unless I suspect that spot is the driveway of a home). Mr. Long's truck was not in the best of repair and he was unable to move it so it was impounded.

Mr. Long sued the city claiming that because he was living out of his truck, the city could not legally impound his truck. He relied on Washington state's homestead law.

The city argued that the application of the homestead law was improper and that the city was well within its authority to impound the truck. The city denied that impounding the truck amounted to a forced sale of Mr. Long's homestead because there was no constitutional right to housing.

Mr. Long prevailed when the judge ruled that his truck was his home.

This decision comes on the heels of a decision in Clark County, Washington, in which a court held that police officers violated a homeless man's 4th Amendment right to privacy when they lifted up the tarp under which he was sleeping, found a bag of meth and arrested him.

The homeless are being criminalized as a result of gentrification and city's attempts to lure affluent whites from the suburbs to downtown business districts. The homeless are an inconvenience as well as a reminder that our economy hasn't come close to benefiting everyone in society.

First you get cities making it illegal for the homeless to camp under overpasses. Then you make it a crime to provide food to the homeless without a permit.

As a result of conservative lawmakers, funding to mental health providers, homeless shelters and homeless advocacy grounds have been cut to the bone. The minimum wage isn't even enough for a person to live on. We subsidize low-wage employers by proving food stamps, welfare and Medicaid to those who can't afford to live on the wages employers like Wal-Mart, McDonald's and the like pay.

These two court rulings out of Washington are evidence that at least two judges understand the new American economy and the criminalization of the poor.

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