A liberal legal organization is seeking to prevent one of the nation’s biggest cities from cleaning up the trash left behind by the homeless.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona is seeking to prevent the city of Phoenix from resuming regular cleanups in an area of the city blighted with homeless encampments, known locally as “The Zone,” according to KNXV-TV.
Phoenix previously stopped the cleanups in response to an investigation by the Justice Department.
The DOJ probed the Phoenix Police Department for allegedly violating the rights of the homeless in the blighted area. The probe deterred the city from continuing regular cleanups to mitigate the consequences of urban camping.
The ACLU’s federal lawsuit accuses Phoenix’s previously paused homelessness cleanup policies of usurping the property of the homeless, according to KNXV.
The suit was filed Wednesday, according to Fox News.
The nonprofit’s court filings claim that the cleanups “indiscriminately seize, impound and destroy unsheltered individuals’ personal property and survival gear without cause or warrant,” according to The Blaze.
Homelessness has rapidly escalated in the city of Phoenix, with many locals shocked to find a level of urban camping in their midst they previously associated with the inner-city slums of California.
A city of tents has formed around organizations providing services to the homeless in the neighborhood, a short walk away from the Arizona State Capitol.
Residents and business owners in the homelessness-blighted area of downtown Phoenix are filing their own lawsuit against the city, accusing elected officials of doing nothing to mitigate the nuisance of homeless encampments and petty crime.
Twelve plaintiffs are requesting that a judge require the city to adopt new policies to solve a problem that has become unbearable, according to KPNX-TV.
An attorney for one litigant is accusing the city of breaking the law in declining to abate the situation.
“If you find there’s a public nuisance, it’s not just something saved for the political arena,” Ilan Wurman said.
“It means the city has exercised its discretion in a way that violates the law.”
One nonprofit organization estimates that the homeless population of the Phoenix metro area has increased by a whopping 73 percent since 2016, according to KPNX-TV.
Locals point to inflation, drug use, mental illness and spiking costs in the price of housing as causes of the worsening problem.
Once one of the most solidly Republican states in the country, Arizona has transformed politically, with Democrats set to control nearly all statewide elected positions after the 2022 midterms.