Posted For: Willie Wonka
Disabled Portland residents can’t traverse the Oregon city because of the widespread homeless encampments obstructing the sidewalks, a new lawsuit argues.
The federal class action suit, brought forward by disabled people on Tuesday, says the tents make it next to impossible to move around Portland sidewalks in wheelchairs, walkers and canes. Every day the problem persists, the city is violating the Americans with Disabilities Act, the legal action states
One plaintiff who uses a wheelchair complained he was almost hit by a car due to the problem.
“I couldn’t get to my breakfast in the morning because there was a tent covering the whole sidewalk,” Keith Martin, 71, said. “I was forced onto the street and narrowly missed a streetcar that came around the corner.”
The plaintiffs want the city to clear sidewalks of tents and garbage and “construct, purchase, or otherwise provide for emergency shelters in which to house the unsheltered persons” who may be affected.
“The entire class of persons with disabilities are regularly deprived of the benefits of services of the city of Portland,” said John DiLorenzo, a lawyer representing the group.
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler’s office declined comment to the Associated Press Thursday.
Another plaintiff, Steve Jackson, who is blind and uses a cane, said he struggles to talk without knocking into the makeshift homes.
“Often there’s tents blocking the entire sidewalk, where I don’t see them because they weren’t there the day before, and I hit the tent and then people are mad at me and think I’m attacking them,” Jackson, 47, said during a news conference.
About 13% of people in Portland live with a disability.
Homelessness is a major problem in Portland dating back years and only got worse since 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic, a housing shortage and high drug addiction rates have contributed to the heartbreaking crisis.