May 8, 2020

ACS Bay Area: Homelessness and COVID-19 - Martin v. Boise and Policy Responses to COVID-19

Watch video on YouTube.


On Tuesday, May 5, the ACS Bay Area Lawyer Chapter, the ACS At-Large Chapter, the ACS Los Angeles Lawyer Chapter, the ACS Sacramento Lawyer Chapter, and the ACS San Diego Lawyer Chapter hosted a discussion of the Ninth Circuit’s decision in Martin v. Boise and current homelessness policy responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. In Martin, the Ninth Circuit held that governments cannot criminalize conduct that is the “unavoidable consequence” of being unhoused if the government cannot provide accessible indoor shelter. In California, home to more than 150,000 unhoused people, the COVID-19 pandemic has compelled local and state government officials to move away from a criminalization approach to homelessness and towards a rapid effort to provide shelter.


This online panel discussion covered the Martin litigation, analyzed how the case was beginning to influence governmental responses to homelessness before the COVID-19 pandemic, and overviewed the important constitutional questions relating to the rights of unhoused people during this public health crisis.



Tristia Bauman, Senior Staff Attorney, National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty

Zoe Savitsky, Deputy City Attorney, Oakland City Attorney’s Office

Thomas Zito, Supervising Attorney, Disability Rights Advocates


Moderated by:

Jamie Crook, Senior Staff Attorney, ACLU Foundation of Northern California; Member, ACS Bay Area Lawyer Chapter Board of Directors