Homelessness: Let's keep our focus on solutions

Only City Council members and authorized staff are allowed to post on this message board.
Jimmy Flannigan
Posts: 85
Joined: Thu Jan 12, 2017 8:44 am

Homelessness: Let's keep our focus on solutions

Post by Jimmy Flannigan » Mon Sep 16, 2019 2:29 pm

CM Ellis and I have been reviewing the two dueling proposals and want to communicate our perspective on this overall situation.

We both recognize that clearly this isn’t going well and people from all directions are feeling that. The rollout and communication around the June changes have been challenging, and the efforts by our colleagues to rein it back in looks to be creating an even greater challenge.

We are in agreement that camping bans do not actually solve the problem of homelessness and that picking and choosing certain streets in certain districts does not move our city any closer to a solution. We should allow our new homeless strategy officer to identify where people experiencing homelessness can be. Once we have identified and provided the services for how people get off the streets, and not just keep moving them around to different parts of town, then we can revisit restrictions on camping.

We also believe that another round of resolutions and direction to staff may do more harm than good, since we need staff to implement the direction they have already been given by Council back in June. Adding more work from the dais could delay the necessary solutions.

So instead of coming up with new resolutions or major revisions to ordinances, here are our priorities:

1) Clarify the camping ordinance so that our intent is clear enough for the Chief and APD officers to be able to make their best judgment calls on the changes from June regarding "materially endangering the health or safety" and "rendering impassable or impeding the reasonable use of a public area” in order to ensure public safety.

2) Ensure officers are well resourced to connect folks with services AND the ability to enforce still-illegal behaviors such as disturbing the peace, aggressive behavior, and lewd acts.

3) Stay focused on the existing plans and direction for our new homeless strategy officer to evaluate and implement.

4) Consider programming & public outreach to help direct the community's altruism to better and more effective channels that can help connect people to services.

Neither myself nor CM Ellis want to repeat the failures of other cities which continue to expand their camping bans in only certain parts of town but not actually address the root causes of homelessness. We have approved the Action Plan. We have provided direction. We have provided the resources. Now it's time for Council to let staff and our community partners to do the work.

CM Flannigan & CM Ellis
Jimmy Flannigan
Council Member, District 6