Pottinger

Pedro Portal / Miami Herald

An agreement between Miami’s homeless residents and the City of Miami that had been in effect for more than two decades came to a close last week, as part of a class action federal lawsuit that has been active since 1988. The understanding outlined basic rights for the city’s homeless population, offering protection from being arrested for sleeping on the pavement, being in a park after hours, and going to the bathroom in public – which were common in the 1980s.

Pedro Portal / Miami Herald

A federal judge on Friday terminated a consent decree that has been in effect for over 20 years, which prevented police in the City of Miami from arresting "homeless people for being homeless" and from taking their personal belongings. The landmark "Pottinger agreement" was part of a class action lawsuit brought on behalf of the city's homeless population by the American Civil Liberties Union in 1988, but it only went into effect in 1998.

Pedro Portal / Miami Herald

Monday marked the first day of a three day trial between the City of Miami and its homeless population.

The class action lawsuit was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in May on behalf of the area's homeless after the City of Miami attempted to terminate a 20-year-old agreement that governs how police can treat the homeless. 

Wilson Sayre / WLRN

A new national report found a general trend toward criminalizing the homeless, and criticized the laws of some areas in Florida. The report, published by the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, looked at how municipalities treat the homeless.

It found more and more cities have banned activities like sleeping on sidewalks, sitting in public spaces or storing personal possessions outside.

Creative Commons / Flickr user Daniel Oines

Update: The Fort Lauderdale City Commission unanimously passed both ordinances on first reading. The second reading will most likely be scheduled for the next commission meeting on May, 6.

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How does a city strike a balance between the needs of the homeless and the needs of those around them? Those questions will be put to the Fort Lauderdale City Commission as they consider two provisions on the agenda at Tuesday’s commission meeting.

It's Done: Changes To Pottinger Settlement Approved

Feb 28, 2014
Wilson Sayre

Protecting the rights of Miami's Homeless since 1998, Federal Judge Federico Moreno has approved changes to the Pottinger settlement. The revisions were reached through mediation between the city of Miami and the ACLU.

Moreno commented before giving his final ruling that this was a different type of class-action suit because it was not about money. Instead, the question at stake is "how do we help people also also help the community grow," he said.

Creative Commons via Flickr user Andrew Brown

Behind closed doors on Wednesday, the Miami City Commission approved major changes to the Pottinger settlement.

The historic court agreement has protected the rights of Miami’s homeless since it first went into effect in 1998. The original Pottinger agreement protected what’s called "life sustaining activities" like sleeping on the street, lighting fires for cooking and urinating in public — all without being arrested.