Federal court puts hold on Houston ordinance aimed at homeless camps

John Treadgold/KPRC2

HOUSTON - A federal court on Tuesday issued a temporary restraining order for an ordinance that prohibits homeless encampments in Houston.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas said the order prevents law enforcement from citing or arresting anyone who is using a tent on public property.

The group filed a lawsuit in May, challenging a rule passed by the Houston City Council in April that prohibits temporary shelters, tents and unauthorized outdoor cooking devices in public areas. They requested the restraining order after authorities recently cleared a homeless camp.

“We’re delighted the court recognized that homelessness is not and should not be a crime,” said Trisha Trigilio, senior staff attorney for the ACLU of Texas. “Seeking shelter is not only a right; it’s also a fundamental human necessity. We call on the City to stop enforcing ordinances that criminalize such a basic human need and seek more compassionate and effective methods for solving Houston’s homelessness problem.”

The group said both sides must now meet to set a date for a full hearing on the lawsuit.

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