Home­less ad­vo­cates op­pose ban

The Morning Journal (Lorain, OH) - - LOCAL NEWS - By Angie Wang

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.

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