AKRON, Ohio — Akron officials have agreed to give homeless people two days’ notice before city officials remove their belongings from public property and give them a chance to reclaim those items, under a settlement in a federal lawsuit.
People who lost their belongings during sweeps of homeless camps sued city officials with help from law students and a professor from Case Western Reserve University. The lawsuit said city officials and police unfairly seized tents, sleeping bags, clothing and personal items, including photographs, identification and other documents in a series of raids.
The settlement was approved this week by a federal judge.
Under the agreement, Akron must store any sized items for a month so they have a chance to be reclaimed.
“This is an important victory for the homeless community — people all too often marginalized and abused,” Case Western law professor Avidan Cover said. “The court-enforced agreement makes clear that all homeless people have constitutionally protected property rights mandating notice and the opportunity to challenge government seizures.”
The mayor’s chief of staff, James Hardy, told the Akron Beacon Journal the city will benefit from the agreement.
“In our view, having a written protocol in place will help us to serve all residents who are homeless and not homeless,” Hardy said.
The damages paid by the city aren’t disclosed in the settlement, but Hardy said the city will pay $20,000 in damages and court costs.