Press Release

MoFo, CRLA Stand Up Against Criminalizing Homelessness

Manteca uses the law to attack people that are homeless

18 Nov 2015

MANTECA, CA (November 18, 2015) - California Rural Legal Assistance Inc. (CRLA) and Morrison & Foerster LLP filed a lawsuit on behalf of homeless individuals against the city of Manteca to challenge local ordinances that criminalize homelessness in violation of federal law.

The lawsuit was filed in the Eastern District of California, Sacramento Division on November 13, 2015. It alleges that the city’s ordinances, which make it unlawful to sleep on public grounds, “construct or occupy a transient shelter,” or “store personal property,” are illegal and unfairly target and criminalize people that are homeless. Manteca passed these ordinances without providing shelters or alternatives for homeless people.

“Manteca is going after these people simply because they cannot afford housing,” said James McGuire, a partner in Morrison & Foerster’s San Francisco office. “This is unacceptable and unlawful.”

The homeless in Manteca have few options. With limited exceptions during extreme weather, Manteca does not operate any public shelters and most of the homeless are not eligible for the limited private shelter space available. Their only option is to live on the streets.

Since the ordinances were passed, the homeless have been cited, harassed by police officers, and had personal property confiscated by the City of Manteca.

Similar suits have been filed nationwide. In Bell v. City of City of Boise, a federal suit filed in Idaho, the United States filed a statement of interest and urged the district court to consider that “enforcement of anti-camping ordinances may violate the Eighth Amendment on nights where there is inadequate shelter space available for all a city’s homeless individuals.”

“Making it illegal for homeless individuals to sleep or make shelter without providing alternatives is cruel,” said CRLA Attorney Cynthia Chagolla. “They are sending a clear message - if you are homeless Manteca is not the place for you.”

The Morrison & Foerster pro bono team is being led by James McGuire, and includes San Francisco associates Lauren Lynn Wroblewski and Antonio L. Ingram, II.

About California Rural Legal Assistance:

Founded in 1966, CRLA’s mission is to fight for justice and individual rights alongside the most exploited communities of our society. Through a network of regional offices and cross-cutting programs, CRLA provides legal services to over 43,000 low-income people annually. Our work impacts farmworkers, individuals with disabilities, immigrant populations, LGBT communities, women, children and families in rural areas.

For more information on CRLA, please visit:



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