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County found liable for violating homeless campers’ civil rights


in: Featured, News


CLARK COUNTY — Clark County leaders are expected to approve a $250,000 settlement agreement this week as restitution for violating homeless campers’ civil rights.

CCToday 28 Sep 16 17

Earlier this month, a federal judge in Tacoma found Clark County liable for violating the constitutional rights of unhoused citizens when county work crews cleared homeless camps, seizing and disposing of the homeless campers’ personal property.

According to the suit, brought on behalf of eight different homeless plaintiffs, county work crews often seized personal belongings — including clothing, tents, sleeping bags, photographs, driver’s licenses, shoes, computers, food, medication, prescription glasses and toiletries — with little to no notice, and then disposed of the items immediately, giving homeless campers no chance to retrieve their belongings.

“It was a clear violation of the law,” says Vancouver attorney Peter Fels of the county’s seizure practices. Fels, along with his co-counsel, Moloy Good, a member of the Portland Human Rights Commission, represented the eight plaintiffs in their case against the county.

On Sept. 16, U.S. District Court Judge Robert Bryan agreed that the county had violated the plaintiffs’ constitutional rights, ruling that the county’s “immediate destruction of the property (rather than holding it for possible return) made the seizure unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment.” Bryan also dismissed the county’s assertion that the work crews were justified in removing and destroying the personal property because campers had violated the county’s illegal camping ordinances.

Quoting a similar case out of Los Angeles that went to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the highest court in the nation before the U.S. Supreme Court, Judge Bryan ruled that that violation of an ordinance (in this case the illegal camping ordinance) does not nullify a person’s Fourth Amendment rights, which protect citizens from illegal search and seizures of private property.

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Advocate for homeless builds on experience


"Adam Kravitz found purpose through loss, hardship"


By Katie Gillespie, Columbian County Government Reporter


Adam Kravitz byNatalieBehringAdam Kravitz’s life story has been full of loss.

His older brothers died of drug overdoses in 2001 and 2004. He also lost his mother to her drug addiction about 15 years ago.

He also tells of an unexpected death of a girlfriend seven years ago, which Kravitz said broke something inside him. Alone from the deaths of so many people he loved, Kravitz chose a life on the streets, turning away from his home, his possessions and his job as a restaurant manager.

“Any time I ever had anyone close to me they seemed to die,” Kravitz said. “It was the last straw for me at this point.”

For nearly six years, Kravitz was homeless. Despite the loss of his family members due to drug addiction, he isolated himself from the rest of the world by turning to methamphetamine. It kept him warm and awake on cold nights, and helped him forget his suffering, he said.

But fast-forward to this year. After years of homelessness, multiple arrests for drug possession and nearly two years reshaping his life in drug court, Kravitz, now 49, is a local leader in the fight against Clark County’s homeless problem. He uses his own experiences to help those in the same place he once was. His nonprofit, Outsiders Inn, helps empower homeless people to connect with the services they need. Most recently, he was invited to be a peer mentor for the residents of a proposed temporary emergency village for the homeless near the Garrison Square shopping center in central Vancouver.

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Council for Homeless, pastor plan village of 40 tiny houses


Temporary ‘Band-Aid’ intended to aid those most vulnerable who need a leg up


By Amy Fischer, Columbian City Government Reporter


 AdamKravtiz BillRitchie Columbian12-3-15

The Council for the Homeless and a local pastor are leading an effort to build a temporary, emergency village of 40 tiny houses for 50 homeless people this winter at a church next to Garrison Square shopping center.

Forty 8-by-10-foot insulated garden sheds with windows and locking doors will be erected on a fenced, 1.5-acre empty field just north of Safe Harbor Church of the Nazarene’s parking lot at 8100 E. Mill Plain Blvd. Aimed at housing the most vulnerable of the homeless, the village will accommodate single women, adults with no minor children and elderly single men. It will have six portable toilets and two large, heated trailers for eating, computing, meeting with caseworkers and hanging out. Tenants won’t be allowed to have visitors, but pets will be permitted.

The village will remain on the site for 12 months, said Andy Silver, executive director of the Council for the Homeless.

“This is a temporary way to provide more safe emergency shelter while we’re figuring out how to create more permanent emergency shelter capacity in the community,” he said Thursday. “This isn’t a long-term solution. … This is a Band-Aid.”

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Our Homeless Crisis: Vancouver allows homeless camping, with ugly unintended results


"As negative as this is, it's forcing everybody to pay attention," said Adam Kravitz, who lived on the streets of Vancouver for six years and now runs the outreach group Outsiders Inn. "We can't hide it anymore. We have to look at it and look for permanent changes in the approach."


By Anna Griffin | The Oregonian/OregonLive
on November 07, 2015 at 5:00 AM, updated November 07, 2015 at 1:47 PM

A surprising thing happened when Vancouver leaders decided earlier this fall to lift the citywide ban on public camping:

Chaos ensued.

In just a few weeks, a residential neighborhood a 10-minute walk from the heart of downtown became host to a homeless camp that grew to 150 people. Tents lined parking strips, and sleeping bags, shopping carts, mattresses, coolers, garbage, luggage and bike frames collected on street corners. Armed volunteers showed up to keep the peace.

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