TASL camp still being used, despite being “closed” months ago

The Aberdeen Temporary Alternative Shelter Location (TASL) officially closed in July, but that hasn’t stopped people from still living there.

At the Aberdeen City Council meeting on Wednesday, officials said that the number of people on the site has been growing.

Public Works Director Rick Sangder was asked at the meeting for an update on the TASL, and he said that the city’s hands are tied.

Sangder said that the city has reached out to legal counsel on what the options are to assist in clearing the space, but conversation indicated that the Martin v. Boise case has made it difficult to enforce the closure.

In 2009,  six homeless residents filed the suit against the city of Boise, Idaho regarding the city’s anti-camping ordinance. In 2018, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued a ruling in Martin v. Boise (Robert Martin, Lawrence Lee Smith, Robert Anderson, Janet F. Bell, Pamela S. Hawkes, and Basil E. Humphrey v. City of Boise) that stated cities cannot enforce anti-camping ordinances if they do not have enough homeless shelter beds available for their homeless population, citing the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment.

Mayor Pete Schave weighed in during the meeting saying that work has continued to find a resolution to the situation. He said that he has asked counsel to find out how to provide additional bed space for those living within the downtown area. He added that citations for those who refuse to leave are not enforceable under the legal action.

Councilmember Tiesa Meskis spoke later in the meeting for the Ad Hoc Committee of Homeless Response, placing the onus on the county.

At the meeting it was suggested that bringing back ways to separate the homeless residents currently on the site is being considered. There was no discussion on whether the temporary walls would be returning.