Homeless advocates oppose ban
Criminalizing homelessness by banning encampments throughout a southwest Ohio county is not the answer, advocates for the homeless said Friday.
Civil rights lawyer Joe Mead described as “troubling” the scope of an Ohio judge’s order that prohibits homeless people from establishing tent cities in all of Hamilton County. Mead, of the ACLU of Ohio, said he’s never heard of a county prosecutor arguing that homeless people are a nuisance in all public spaces.
County Judge Robert Ruehlman has twice extended his initial ban on encampments in downtown Cincinnati near high-profile entertainment and sports venues. When homeless camps moved just outside the restricted area, Ruehlman amended the order, first covering more of Cincinnati, and then the entirety of Hamilton County.
In his Thursday ruling, he said anyone who stands in the way could be arrested.
The county prosecutor’s office said the amendment — the latest development in a weekslong sweep of Cincinnati’s tent cities — is enforceable only as long as there is room in shelters for the homeless.
Area shelters have filled their permanent beds but continue to accept individuals who can sleep on spare mattresses, said Kevin Finn, president of Cincinnati-based Strategies to End Homelessness. No one has been turned away.
Mead said the lawsuit doesn’t name the homeless people it affects most, denying them a chance to be heard in court.