Elkhart City Council further discusses Homelessness Ordinance ahead of vote

NOW: Elkhart City Council further discusses Homelessness Ordinance ahead of vote

ELKHART, Ind. -- On Monday night, the Elkhart City Council held a special meeting to further discuss a proposed ordinance that would prohibit camping or storing property in public areas.

The Elkhart Chief of Police was there to give his take on the ordinance and why he supports it, but after the discussion, it’s clear that it’s still a hot-button issue that will be difficult to please everyone.

“I’m not quite sure, really, what this ordinance is going to accomplish over ordinances we already have in place,” says Elkhart City Councilwoman, Lewis Anne Deputy.

For the past several weeks, discussion on the ordinance has been back and forth.

The ordinance, first brought to the table in July, asks for the council to consider placing a ban on any camping or storing of items in public spaces as it presents a health and safety concern to Elkhart residents.

The goal, they say, is to address the issue of homelessness at its source and give attention to the local agencies that can help the homeless find shelter.

The Elkhart Chief of Police and some city leaders believe it’s the best solution to get the homeless out of public parks and get them into substantial housing.

Others, including councilmember Deputy worries it can be seen as a loophole to allow designated camping areas in the long run as a result, which they think would increase the homeless population.

Or, that some city ordinances already address what the ordinance is aiming to tackle.

“I do have concern, as many of the citizens did, that we would have sanctioned tent cities,” Deputy explains. “I do think that hurts the quality of life; it will tax resources of not only the citizens but also a lot of the not-for-profit organizations that are trying to help.”

They expect to vote on the proposed ordinance in their September 11th meeting.

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