Boise Homeless Advocates: 'Housing, Not Handcuffs'

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At the height of this summer's swelter, Boise Weekly chronicled how a number of the city's homeless were spending many of their days under the overpass near Rhodes Parks on Americana Boulevard, in the shadow of the Boise Connector.

BW spoke to a number of the men and women without a home who had also been issued warnings and citations for violating the city's so-called anti-camping ordinance.

"Listen to me: You can't be punished for doing a normal human thing, such as sleeping, in the city of Boise," attorney Howard Belodoff told an under-the-bridge gathering in August. "You need to fight these tickets. You need to defend yourselves. You need to make sure to plead not guilty, I repeat not guilty, ask for a public defender and ask for a jury trial."

But as the heat has given way to fall's cool days and nights, the numbers continue to grow.

On the morning of Sunday, Oct. 12, advocates for the homeless were out in force to again say that "Boise City is criminalizing homelessness," and warned city officials that the anti-camping ordinance violates citizens' constitutional rights.

In an open letter to the Boise City Council on Sept. 23, the ACLU of Idaho wrote that it hoped "this will be the last letter the ACLU of Idaho must write you on this subject," but accused city officials of a "persistent push to punish vulnerable families and put veterans and people with disabilities in jail just because of their poverty."

Organizers called Sunday's rally "Housing, Not Handcuffs."