The progressive Left’s litigation counter-attack on the effort to clear the sprawling Santa Ana River Trail homeless encampment continues: today a small-but-vocal group of homeless advocates filed a federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) lawsuit claiming the multi-jurisdictional enforcement-and-relocation program discriminates against SART homeless camp denizens who have disabilities – which the lawsuit claims is most of them.
The People’s Homeless Task Force and several homeless residents of the SART encampment are listed as the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, which was filed today by the Legal Aid Society of Orange County. The lawsuit seeks to stop the enforcement and relocation program until it is modified to accommodate the disabilities of the SART homeless.
Each individual plaintiff – Derek MacArthur, Erik Teasley, Kim Gray, Raya Ives, Sharon Sweat, Stephanie Saint Vincent and David Ramirez – is described as “disabled as defined by the ADA and meets the definition of “chronically homeless” as defined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”).”
While most Americans think of disability in physical terms, the definition under the ADA is very expansive: “Disability” means “(A) a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; (B) a record of such an impairment; or (C) being regarded as having such an impairment.” [emphasis added]
The disabilities claimed in the lawsuit are primarily mental health issues.
The lawsuit claims:
“The County’s Program discriminates against homeless individuals with disabilities living at the Riverbed, including Plaintiffs, in at least three ways. First, individuals with disabilities are denied the benefits of the Program, including disability appropriate housing, as a result of their disability. Second, individuals with disabilities are required to participate in the Program assessments without any accommodation for their disability, which has a disparate negative impact on the participants’ health. Third, some individuals with disabilities are excluded from participating in the Program altogether.”
Among multitudinous claims, the lawsuit asserts the County’s relocation efforts are discriminatory because Health Care Agency staff are in uniforms, and uniforms are scary. Furthermore, HCA staff are frequently accompanied by law enforcement officers, who also wear uniforms, which boosts the scary factor.
The sanitation workers who pick up trash, human waste and used hypodermic needles along the SART encampment three times a week also wear uniforms. However, they aren’t mentioned in the lawsuit, so their uniforms must not be scary.
Some truths about the People’s Homeless Task Force are worth noting for the benefit of the public. It is led by Mike and Jeannine Robbins, who are fixtures at Anaheim City Council meetings and any public hearing touching on the subject of homelessness. They are known for verbally assail as “haters” other residents who disagree with their rigid and extreme views regarding homelessness. Mike Robbins, for example, has compared to Nazis and David Duke those Anaheim residents who favor enforcement of anti-camping and trespassing laws in public parks.
The People’s Homeless Task Force was invited by District 3 Councilman Jose F. Moreno to participate in his Homeless Policy Working Group. The PHTF responded by making Mr. Robbins’ their emissary.
The most amusing part of the lawsuit is the description of supposed damages the PHTF has suffered due to the County’s enforcement and relocation program:
As a result of the County’s planned eviction of Riverbed residents, PHTF has been required to divert enormous resources away from its mission in order to provide assistance to residents living along the Riverbed. PHTF has shifted resources to (1) addressing the County Board of Supervisors to oppose the eviction; (2) raising public awareness of the plight of the homeless and the negative impacts of the eviction; (3) contacting County personnel to gather information about the eviction and sharing that information with homeless Riverbed residents; (4) attempting to identify safe alternative locations for people living at the Riverbed to live; (5) mobilizing transportation and other equipment to assist people being evicted; (6) monitoring and recording the activity of County personnel along the Riverbed to identify potential civil rights violations; and (7) working to reassure homeless residents experiencing mental health symptoms caused by the eviction.
The lawsuit does not quantify the “enormous resources” supposedly possessed by this motley group of half a dozen or so progressive political activists – because those enormous resources are mythical.
Progressive reflexively resort to the court room when they fail to prevail in the political arena, and their fight to preserve the SART homeless encampment in the face of the massive opposition from negatively-impacted homeowners and businesses is no exception.