Advocates for Utah’s low-income residents were awarded a stipulated restraining order against Salt Lake City to keep it from enforcing anti-panhandling laws.
The lawsuit was brought on behalf of several homeless individuals in the city who felt laws against soliciting money from the side of the road were unfairly applied to them, while leaving alone people seeking charitable solicitations. (Think firemen carrying boots to be filled with spare change into the medians of busy roads.)
In broader terms, the suit has been a pushback against the city’s efforts to solve the homeless problem by criminalizing it, rather than treating it.
Now, in a small victory, Judge Ted Stewart of the U.S. District Court issued today an order stipulating the temporary city-wide ban of enforcement of current anti-panhandling laws, with the exception of panhandling that occurs near freeway on ramps. The stipulated agreement also allows for pending panhandling charges against individuals to be put on hold until the lawsuit is settled.
“It’s a sign that they’re taking it seriously,” says Bill Tibbits of the Crossroad Urban Center, one of the low-income advocates fighting recent trends in penalizing Salt Lake City’s indigent population. “Hopefully this will all be resolved soon.”