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Court ruling limits how Idaho Falls can respond to homeless

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (KIFI) - For weeks, a homeless camp has sheltered under the gazebo of the Japanese Friendship Garden.

Many residents of Idaho Falls have called for the city to remove the individuals. But because of a 2018 court ruling, representatives for the city say there's not much they can do.

"A court ruling in Martin versus Boise recently by the Ninth Circuit Court limits cities and what they can do in enforcing camping by the homeless," City of Idaho Falls PIO Eric Grossarth said. "That basically makes it so most cities can't have a no camping in public places ordinance specifically for the homeless. So that includes places like sidewalks, parks, just anywhere that the public can be."

Because of the ruling, many of the responses the city would have used in the past are no longer an option, which is why they've put an emphasis on using resources like the Idaho Falls Rescue Mission.

Previously, we'd talked to the Idaho Falls Rescue Mission, who said they have room plenty of room available. However, some people refuse to stay sober or meet other requirements to stay in the shelter.

A significant portion of the community has cried out in response, saying they feel for the homeless, but they no longer feel safe at the park or the Greenbelt is "no place for setting up camp."

Representatives for the city say they hear the people, but the issue goes beyond just Idaho Falls.

"We understand the concerns felt by a lot of people. It's just difficult when there are those limitations. A lot of people want us to say, hey, just close the park to camping. But because of that court ruling and our understanding of it, it really limits that option for not only Idaho Falls but much of the western United States," Grossarth said.

For our previous story, click HERE.

Article Topic Follows: Idaho Falls
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Seth Ratliff

Seth is a reporter for Local News 8 and Eyewitness News 3.


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