People who are unhoused and disabled have rights. In San Bernardino, where worsening climate conditions pose life-threatening situations to those who are most vulnerable, they have been systemically displaced and seperated from their personal belongings.

The ACLU Foundation of Southern California, O’Melveny & Myers LLP, and Elder Law and Disability Rights Center, filed a lawsuit on behalf of three unhoused people and a grassroots orgnization against the City of San Bernardino, for its inhumane pattern of discrimination against unhoused residents with disabilities and for violating the Fourth Amendment right to be secure from unreasonable seizures.

The lawsuit challenges San Bernardino’s widespread practice of unlawfully forcing unhoused people with disabilities to move themselves and their property from locations like Perris Hill Park, Meadowbrook Park, and Seccombe Lake Recreation Area, with reckless disregard for people’s disability needs for assistance. During these displacements, the city destroyed personal property.

These illegal and inhumane dispalcements cost our plaintiff Lenka John her walker and medical paperwork. Other individuals have had life-saving medicine, government IDs, family photos, and even the ashes of their loved ones destroyed or taken away from them. With nowhere to go and without any assistance, people are forced to retreat to desolate and unsafe areas.

The lawsuit asks for a declaratory judgment that San Bernardino has violated plaintiff’s rights under the U.S. and California Constitutions and the ADA. In addition, the suit seeks from the court a preliminary injunction to:  

  • cease discrimination against people with disabilities in the administration of city programs, activities, and services; and 
  • cease seizing and destroying all personal property of unhoused residents. 

Case Developments

August 9, 2023
Court order protects civil rights of unhoused people in San Bernardino.

August 9, 2023
Plaintiffs filed a motion for preliminary injuction to prevent the City of San Bernardino from causing further harm. 

August 2, 2023
Read the complaint.