UPDATE: Rochester passes homelessness encampment ban
UPDATE: Rochester City Council has passed an ordinance banning homelessness encampment on public and city property in a 4-3 vote on Monday, Feb. 5.
The ban includes daytime panhandling
Failure to comply could result in a $1,000 fine and 90 days in jail.
The ordinance is meant to address the city resident’s issues with the local homeless population.
This story is still developing, please check back as more information becomes available.
(ABC 6 News) – A growing number of homeless encampments throughout the city and on public property has a Rochester issue for several years.
An ordinance to address the city’s homelessness problem proposes a camping ban on public property.
“We’re being asked to respond by the community to the situations that are occurring out within the community,” said Lt. Ryan Magnuson of the Rochester Police Department. “So, in order to respond to what the community is asking us to do, we need the proper tools to address that.”
The push to ban camping on public property has been a clear message from RPD dating back to last June. Police say they don’t have enough tools to properly address the homeless issue and believe this ordinance will start to curb the issue.
Rochester Police Chief Jim Franklin has advocated the city to enact bans on panhandling and encampments.
If the ordinance passes, anyone camping on city property could face 90-days in jail and up to a thousand dollars in fines.
“The main goal with this whole approach, not just with the police department but the community in general is to get people connected with the services they need. To help get them, to lift them up the situation their in, not to attempt to hold people at all,” Magnuson added.
Rochester is not the only place in the U.S. To consider such an ordinance.
The Kentucky State Legislature recently proposed a similar bill that would also allow police to fine and arrest people for unlawful camping.
But those who work with people experiencing homelessness say this may not solve the problem long term.
“One of the things I was thinking about too, what if there someone say in a single adult experiencing homelessness, they’re camping outside, kind of how is this process going to go?” said Erin Sinnwell, executive director of Family Promise Rochester.
“You’re arrested, you in jail for a night, you get a bed, you get a meal and then you’re put back out on the street,” Sinnwell said. “I don’t know how it’s not going to continue to keep happening. How it’s not going to be just this cycle end up costing taxpayers money as well.”
If this ordinance is passed, police will give people 48 hours to make other arrangements, before clearing out the encampments.