City gives Third Street homeless camp 72 hours to vacate

Mayor gives homeless 72 hours to move

DOWNTOWN CINCINNATI (FOX19) - The city of Cincinnati has given another homeless camp on Third Street Downtown notice to leave.

Police were seen Tuesday hanging 72-hour vacate notices outside tents on East Third Street near Walnut Street.

About 40 homeless people are believed to live there, though just 12 were there when officers served the vacate order.

The camp, however, is refusing to move.

On Monday, the Greater Cincinnati Homeless Coalition released a list of demands for "The Third Street Coloney" to the city that included public restrooms with showers for the camp.

Mayor John Cranley came out publicly against the homeless camps in a series of media interviews. His office also released the following statement:

"Allowing activists to organize homeless camps in public right-of-ways poses a direct threat to public health and safety for those staying in encampments, and people who visit and work near these areas. Health officials have confirmed an outbreak of Hepatitis A, instances of HIV and have warned that encampments drastically increase the spread of communicable diseases. This is a public health emergency and we are required to respond in a way that ensures safety. Despite the availability of shelter beds and ongoing City assistance year after year, activists are encouraging homeless individuals to remain on the streets, risking their health and safety and preventing them from seeking the help and services they need.  This is unacceptable and immoral."

The camp's leader, Desmond Brown, is calling for a long-term solution.

"You got to understand, a lot of this is institutionalized. We've been closed up for years and we like the freedom of being outside," he said.

Not everyone wants to go to the shelters, he said, because there are too many rules and micro-management.

Cincinnati City Councilman Jeff Pastor was at the camp Monday handing out shelter and domestic violence information to the homeless.

He said walking through it reminds him of when he was living on the street.

"We have to remove this camp and send these beautiful souls to a shelter and - then from there - affordable housing," Pastor said.

But, he said, he thinks taxpayers money could be better spent than on outdoor showers and bathrooms for the homeless.

"I believe we have enough beds in shelters for these people," he said.

Last week, the city shut down a similar pop-up tent homeless camp nearby on Third Street, at Plum Street under the Fort Washington Way bridge.

Police Captain Mike Neville told Council's Law and Public Safety Committee they are looking at options to respond to the latest camp on Third Street.

"Some individuals made their way over to the overpass near U.S. Bank Arena, which is an area that we've encountered in the past, of which we will be approaching and coming up with the ideal response in the very near future."

On Tuesday, police served vacate orders to about a dozen people there at the time, though a total of about 40 are believed to be staying there.

A third camp also has emerged Downtown, on Broadway Street near U.S. Bank Arena. Police plan to serve a vacate order there early next week, Neville said.

Acting City Manager Patrick Duhaney told Council there's no way for the cit to adequately plan for their safety and contain health concerns.

"So it's just not a good thing for the city to have people living on the streets," he said.

Vice Mayor Christopher Smitherman agreed homeless camps are not good for the city. He said the city must enforce its own laws prohibiting them.

"We have to make it clear that we have to send a message (about) putting up tents because now somebody might say 'I want to put up a tent and go to Clifton. I now want to go to Bond Hill,'" Smitherman said during Monday's meeting. "I meant, this is not something that we can do."

He also praised police for how they addressed the homeless camp they just shut down under Fort Washington Way.

"I'm glad and honored to be back here to let you all know that you have my support," he said.

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