SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Being legally blind, Susan Hood said being able to walk around her city is a necessity. 

What You Need To Know

  • Five disabled people have filed a class action lawsuit against the county and city of Sacramento, claiming they are violating the Americans with Disabilities Act by not providing clear sidewalks

  • The lawsuit claims tents with homeless people in them are blocking far too many sidewalks, making it impossible for people with mobility issues to use them

  • The city adopted a sidewalk ordinance in 2022 saying a 4-foot-wide pathway needs to be available

  • Both the city and county said they don’t comment on pending litigation

"It's really for my daily life in terms of running errands, going to the pharmacy, going to the grocery store," Hood said.

Hood said getting where she needs to go in Sacramento is becoming increasingly difficult due to homeless people's tents and makeshift homes blocking sidewalks.

"The biggest problem that I encounter are homeless encampments on the sidewalks that are literally blocking the sidewalks and impeding my path," said Hood.

The issue became so much for Hood that she joined four other disabled people in a class action lawsuit against the city and county for failing to provide clear access on sidewalks under the Americans with Disabilities Act. 

"When the sidewalk is blocked, I either have to retreat, literally turn around and retrace my steps, or find another way forward," Hood said. "And frequently, the only way forward is to actually step off the curb into the street."

Both the city and county said they don't comment on pending litigation.

However, the city said it is working urgently and diligently to address the current homelessness crisis and all its complexities. The city said, "It remains committed to providing support to our most vulnerable residents while also enforcing our laws and ordinances."

The city currently has a sidewalk ordinance stating tenants will be removed if they do not allow at a 4-foot-wide pathway.

"Having sidewalks clear and open for access — it benefits everybody," Hood said.

Unhoused advocacy groups said they sympathize with any marginalized group and that there is a much better solution than removing or conducting sweeps, according to Anthony Prince, lead organizer for the Sacramento Homeless Union.

"Provide the housing," Prince said. "Provide the housing so they don't need to camp. They don't need to be in a tent on a sidewalk or anywhere else. The vast majority of homeless people do not want to be in those circumstances."

Hood said using methods other than walking or public transport is not an option.

"I don't have the choice or liberty of calling Lyft or Uber," Hood said. "Those are extremely expensive."

The hope, Hood said, is that the lawsuit will prompt or force real action, so anytime she or anyone with mobility issues needs to use the sidewalks, they can.