Martin vs. Boise is a 2018 decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in response to a 2009 lawsuit by six homeless plaintiffs against the city of Boise, Idaho regarding the city’s anti-camping ordinance. The ruling held that cities cannot enforce anti-camping ordinances if they do not have enough homeless shelter beds available for their homeless population. It did not necessarily mean a city cannot enforce any restrictions on camping in public spaces.
There are four things that municipal attorneys feel confident in saying regarding Martin:
1. Cities cannot criminally punish a person who is experiencing homelessness from sitting, sleeping, or lying on public property when that person has no place else to go.
2. Cities are not required to build or provide shelters for persons experiencing homelessness.
3. Cities can continue to impose reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions – even on people who are homeless, have a place to find shelter, and don’t wish to use that shelter.
4. Limitation to city only – indicates regional cooperative not permitted. For Cities to get credit for services, they must be in the jurisdiction of the municipality.