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City fences off homeless encampment in Queensgate citing ‘inhumane’ conditions

‘It made me feel useless,’ said one former occupant, ‘like I was in the way.’
‘It made be feel useless,’ said one former occupant, ‘like I was in the way.’
Published: Jan. 21, 2022 at 9:24 PM EST

CINCINNATI (WXIX) - The City of Cincinnati has put up a fence beneath an interstate underpass on Linn Street where many people experiencing homelessness used to sleep.

A city spokesperson says the fence is a measure to “abate the dangerous health and safety conditions” resulting from the encampment as well as an effort to “connect these individuals with housing options and resources.”

Tony Jackson says he’s been camping on Linn Street since 2020.

“I moved to this city to be homeless in peace,” Jackson said, adding of the fence, “It made me feel useless, like I was in the way.”

Jackson explains many folks experiencing homelessness came beneath the overpass because they didn’t have tents in which to shelter when it rains.

“It’s really ruthless,” said Brian Garry, chair of Neighborhoods United, which works to help people experiencing homelessness find housing. “It’s vicious almost.”

The spokesperson says in the four months preceding the erection of the fence city officials from the Department of Public Services worked with Cincinnati police to coordinate several onsite visits to help those experiencing homelessness find safe housing and to clean the area.

The city, according to the spokesperson, succeeded in housing 35 individuals with help from Talbert House, Path Street Outreach and GeneroCity 513.

“Occupying such encampments [is] extremely unsafe for those who live there, resulting in inhumane conditions and, in this instance, exposing them to acts of violence,” the spokesperson said. “We are grateful for assistance from our partners who are experts in offering support to those who are housing insecure.”

Garry responded to the city statement saying, “This is not what equity looks like.” He argued those who camped at the site have no choice but to live on the streets. “There’s nowhere for them to go.”

Garry says there were around 100 people experiencing homelessness staying beneath the overpass in total and around 30 on a nightly basis.

“Citizens who were living here asked that they be able to save their possessions and they weren’t able to,” Garry claimed, referencing things like toothbrushes, masks and other hygiene items.

Said Jackson, “[Cincinnati Police Capt. Matthew Hammer] pulled up, and they told me they’re about to put up the fence and I got to get out of the way. I was like, ‘Alright, let me get my stuff,’ and they were like, ‘Nope.’”

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