Judge rules Seattle homeless man's truck is his home - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Judge rules Seattle homeless man's truck is his home

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SEATTLE -

A Seattle homeless man won't have to sell the truck he's been living in to pat parking tickets and fines thanks to a judge's recent ruling. The ruling could affect hundreds of homeless people in the city living in their vehicles.

The judge based the ruling on a 123-year-old law called the Homestead Act. According to the Homestead Act, the government can't force anyone to sell their home to satisfy debts. It's reportedly the first time anyone has successfully argued that a vehicle can be a home.

Steven Long has been living in his truck since 2014, but it was impounded last year after it was parked on a Seattle street for five months.

"I had eight colds that year and pneumonia, to boot. I normally have only one or two colds a year," Long told KIRO-TV

A 2017 survey by nonprofit organization All Home counted more than 5,400 people leaving on the streets of Seattle, with half of them living in their cars and trucks.

Long's lawyer, Ann LoGerfo with Columbia Legal Services, called the ruling a major victory. LoGerfo and her legal team argued that state law says a home can't be sold to pay debts. The judge determined that Long's truck was his home and couldn't be held for the $900 impound fees he owes.

"So the impound system where there's an impound and you can't get your vehicle - and here a house - out until you pay pretty hefty fines violates the Homestead Act," LoGerfo said. 

The City of Seattle on the other hand argued that impounding Long's truck did not constitute a "forced sale." In a statement, the city attorney said, "The City disagrees with the court's ruling and is evaluating its options."

The city can still issue tickets to anyone who parks a vehicle for more than 72 hours, but if it's someone's home, they cannot impound it.

The city can appeal the ruling.

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