Paralympian SUES Portland over ‘dangerous and unsanitary’ conditions impossible for wheelchairs to navigate

A Paralympian has led a federal class-action lawsuit accusing the City of Portland of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Ten plaintiffs with disabilities maintain that Portland’s festering homeless encampments have created “dangerous and unsanitary” conditions that have made the City inaccessible for people with mobility issues, as reported by the Daily Mail.

The complaint maintains that the City has “failed and continues to fail to maintain its sidewalks clear debris and tent encampments, which is necessary to make [them] readily accessible to people with mobility disabilities.”

Tara Tozer, 54, is the lead plaintiff in this lawsuit. Tozer was a medalist in two Paralympic Games, and a former congressional intern who worked to get the Americans with Disabilities Act passed–the Act on which this lawsuit is based.

At the age of 20, she was hit by a drunk driver, has had to have 36 reconstructive surgeries, and is unable to walk. Tozer attests in the lawsuit that she “frequently finds herself having to alter her routes to maneuver around tent encampments in the Lloyd District and in Downtown Portland…at times, [she] has had to maneuver in the street because the sidewalks are completely blocked by tent encampments.”

The nine other plaintiffs have mobility and vision issues as well that require them to use a cane, a wheelchair or a scooter. The proliferation of homeless tent encampments and their accumulating debris renders it difficult, if not impossible, to get around the streets of Portland for these disabled residents. This infestation of encampments started in the city but since has spread to the suburbs.

Mayor Ted Wheeler has made efforts to limit or ban the homeless encampments in response to the growing backlash. He has most recently issued a ban to prohibit encampments in areas that affect the safety of children trying to get to school. Nonetheless, the problem has continued to grow.

Local suburban residents have said they are “done with Portland” because of the worsening conditions. Bruce Philip, 65, has lived in Portland all his life. He says it has affected the entire city.

“I’ve been here 65 years but I’m done,” he told Daily Mail. “I’m done with Portland.”

“What’s there to say, they move in, take over the neighborhood, do their drugs, play their loud music, and make a mess,” he added. He and his wife Rebecca are leaving.

Local realtors report that the homeless encampments crowding front lawns have stalled housing sales, with more people wanting to move out and many deals falling through, lowering property values.

Distressed parents in Portland begged the City Council last month to do something about the growing danger. They say it is out of control and has created a situation that poses health and safety risks. Complaining that they not only have to pick up needles, human feces and rat carcasses on their front lawns and streets, it is not safe for their children to go to school, even after the mayor issued his most recent ban.

“In one week, 119 times during the times I’m home, I’ve had to ask people to leave my yard smoking fentanyl, needles in my yard, I was told that my kids needed to learn how to use drugs sooner or later during all of this,” a Southeast Portland woman told the city council, according to KOIN.

Parents emphasized that they had compassion for the homeless, but these conditions could not be the answer to that problem, They begged the City Council to reauthorize the ban on camping.

“Removing campsites is a last resort. However, many city streets and parks were not designed for extended camping,” Portland’s government website explains. “Without access to hygiene and other services, locations can become health and safety hazards – not just to the surrounding community, but to people living in encampments too.”

Last week, the city received 3,389 new reports of campsites. Of the thirty homeless people out of 708 who were offered shelter by the City, 25 accepted, as reported on

Despite increasing numbers of homeless, hundreds of Portland’s beds in shelters remain empty.


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