Magistrate Judge Donna Ryu of the U.S. District Court in Oakland, California, issued an emergency order on Friday that San Francisco's local government cannot clear out homeless encampments.
Ryu cited evidence that San Francisco officials did not offer shelter to homeless people. She also cited evidence to show that the city unlawfully seized or discarded homeless people's belongings.
According to San Francisco law, the city must offer shelter to homeless people before clearing their encampments.
"The policy isn't the problem," Ryu said. "The question is how is that policy being executed."
City attorneys said homeless people are notified when camps will be cleared, offered help, and can only be forced to leave if they reject alternative housing. Mayor London Breed also said some of the apparent homeless people have homes, but use camps for "drug dealing, human trafficking, and other illegal activities."
Local officials say the city does not have enough space in shelters to accommodate its estimated 7,800 homeless people. San Francisco would have to add thousands of beds to be able to sufficiently offer alternative housing for homeless people, the Daily Wire reports.
"Mayors cannot run cities this way," Mayor London Breed said. "We already have too few tools to deal with the mental illness we see on our streets. Now we are being told not to use another tool that helps bring people indoors and keeps our neighborhoods safe and clean for our residents."