Legal Notice: Property lost during Honolulu homeless sweeps

This page concerns the settlement that has been reached in Martin v. City & County of Honolulu, a class action lawsuit brought by individuals who are or were homeless, against the City & County of Honolulu. These individuals allege that the City disposed of property belonging to homeless individuals and families during “sweeps” (where the City enforced the “SPO,” or Stored Property Ordinance, and “SNO,” or Sidewalk Nuisance Ordinance) and that the disposal of that property violated two rights under the U.S. Constitution: the right against unreasonable seizures of property under the Fourth Amendment, and the right against deprivation of property without due process of the law under the Fourteenth Amendment.

Generally, you are included in the class if you were homeless or formerly homeless and your property was seized and destroyed by the City and County of Honolulu, and may be eligible to file your own claim for compensation. The class-wide settlement does not include money for people who had their things thrown away (except for the named plaintiffs in the lawsuit and a few others). However, if you believe that the City wrongfully threw away your property, you can file a claim against the City (the claim form is available at https://acluhawaii.files.wordpress.com/2016/04/cityandcountyclaimform.pdf or you can use a “fillable” PDF version here: claim_form_2016). It may take up to 6 months for the City to respond. If you want to make a claim, you must submit the Claim Form within 2 years from the date your things were lost or damaged. If you prefer to sue, the settlement does not prevent you from filing your own lawsuit against the City to try to get compensation for property that the City inappropriately threw away.

For more information: www.honolulu.gov, or call: (808) 768-9311.

If you experience issues with sweep actions by the City or in reclaiming your property – like discrimination based on race, gender, disability, or language, or the City not following the procedures as laid out in the Homeless – Know Your Rights Guide, please contact the ACLU of Hawaii: https://acluhi.org/need-legal-help/

Legal notice (multiple languages):

Martin v. City and County of Honolulu key documents:

Homeless in Honolulu? Know Your Rights! Positive changes resulting from the lawsuit require the City & County of Honolulu to better respect civil rights.

  • #aclusweeptweet – Get advance notice of planned City sweeps
    • As part of the settlement, the City posts notice weekdays by 3 P.M. for sweeps the next day. http://www.honolulu.gov – under the “Hot Links,” click on the link titled “SNO/SPO Stipulation Notice.” The City does not have to give notice for a sweep if your property poses a threat to the health, safety, or welfare of the public or to the “orderly management of public property.” If this happens, the City is required to videotape the sweep, store your property, and make reasonable efforts to document why it swept without prior notice.
    • To get sweep notices through Text, Twitter or Facebook:
        • To get notices as text messages, send a text to 40404 with this phrase: follow acluhawaii. You should receive texts of the ACLU’s #ACLUSweepTweet notices. If you want to stop receiving #ACLUSweepTweet texts, send a text to 40404 and write “unfollow acluhawaii.”
        •  ACLU Hawai‘i posts daily sweep updates on its Facebook page (“ACLUHawaii”) and on Twitter (@acluhawaii).
  • Homeless – Know Your Rights Guide includes detail on sweep procedures and how to reclaim property – all revised as part of the settlement: https://acluhi.org/homelesskyr/
  • First Amendment Toolkit: Freedom of speech applies equally to everyone, housed or not. Get the details on your right to protest and demonstrate in public spaces. https://acluhi.org/first-amendment-toolkit/
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