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Judge to Decide if ‘Voluntarily Homeless’ Man Has Constitutional Right to Live Under Bridge

Craig Bannister
By Craig Bannister | October 3, 2018 | 3:49 PM EDT

Portland, Oregon's Ross Island Bridge (Screenshot)

A “voluntarily homeless” man who doesn’t want to pay rent has had his previously-dismissed court challenge revived by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of appeals.

The court ordered a judge to rule on 74 year-old Michael O’Callaghan’s claim that Portland, Oregon’s anti-camping ordinance is unconstitutional and that he has the right to live under a bridge, The Oregonian reports:

“A federal appeals court has revived a homeless man's case challenging Portland's anti-camping ordinance as a violation of the Eighth Amendment against cruel and unusual punishment.

“Michael O'Callaghan filed a lawsuit in 2012 after getting his plywood, tarps and other belongings confiscated multiple times. He contends the ordinance banning camping on public property is unconstitutional as it applies to "thousands of Oregonians who have no place to sleep.”

….

“O'Callaghan said he's been living under the Ross Island Bridge for the last four months. His shed has two shelves inside, a brown tarp over it and a door that locks.”

The Oregonian reports that O’Callaghan “described himself as ‘voluntarily homeless,’ saying he receives $800 a month in Social Security income and doesn't want to spend a big chunk of it on rent.”

The story also quotes O’Callaghan saying he refuses to live in one of the city’s homeless shelters:

"‘Oh God, are you kidding me? With all those people coughing and hacking,’ he said. ‘Would you want to sleep in a situation like that?’”


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