Month-long chase of homeless appears near end

CINCINNATI (AP) — A monthlong battle between officials in Cincinnati and advocates for the homeless that started with a notice to vacate taped to a lamppost likely will end today.

Josh Spring, of the Greater Cincinnati Homeless Coalition, said the group of some 15 homeless individuals has been “chased by the city and the county” and they don’t know where to go anymore.

A county prosecutor has demanded they vacate an encampment on private property, citing an Ohio judge’s order that bans such camps from all of Hamilton County.

The ruling mentions “sidewalks, right of ways and public grounds,” but doesn’t specifically exempt private property.

Local officials have pushed against Cincinnati’s tent cities for the past month.

A look back at events that focused attention on public policy approaches to homelessness.

July 16

• First 72-hour notice to vacate posted at a homeless encampment near the stadium where the NFL’s Cincinnati Bengals play.

July 19

• City council meets to address the notice issued by Acting City Manager Patrick Duhaney. Duhaney extends the deadline to vacate by six days after meeting with homeless individuals, advocates and city council members.

July 24

• Tent city near football stadium moves to a new location blocks away from a luxury apartment complex and a popular entertainment district.

July 25

• City sanitation crews clean out trash and mattresses before power-washing sidewalks and fencing off the underpass to prevent people from returning to the stadium-area camp.

July 31

• City manager’s office posts another 72-hour notice to vacate along a busy downtown street where some 50 people are living in tents. Duhaney said he’ll deal the following week with the other camp that formed.

Aug 3

• Homeless advocates file a federal lawsuit in attempt to stop the city’s clean-up efforts just hours before homeless individuals are told they must leave. Judge Timothy Black denies their request.

• Homeless individuals move their tents and other belongings around the corner — on the same block — minutes before 2 p.m. deadline. City crews arrive to sanitize the sidewalk but there’s not much left.

• Homeless camp returns to its previous location along downtown street within hours, and Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley said he and the county prosecutor will pursue court orders.

Aug. 6

• Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters files lawsuit in county court, asking a judge to ban homeless encampments from the downtown Cincinnati area. Judge Robert Ruehlman grants the request, saying those who don’t comply can be arrested.

Aug. 7

• A new cluster of tents pops up just north of the restricted area near a casino. In response, Ruehlman expands the order prohibiting encampments, at Deters’ request, to now include the new camp location.

Aug. 9

• Police begin to clear out the camp, throwing out soiled items and saving other belongings for owners to pick up later.

• Encampment moves north, outside redrawn boundaries outlined in the expanded order.

• Judge Ruehlman grants Deters’ new request to extend ban, this time to all of Hamilton County.

• Encampment moves again, onto privately owned land. Josh Spring, an advocate for the homeless, said some neighbors delivered donations of food, water and blankets.

Aug. 15

• Deters says camp must leave by noon the next day, citing Ruehlman’s county-wide ban. The order mentions “sidewalks, right of ways and public grounds” but doesn’t specifically exempt private property.

Aug. 16

• City officials extend the deadline to leave, giving homeless until today to clear out.

• Spring says homeless individuals who have stuck together to maintain a sense of community and safety throughout the month-long chase will part ways today because “there’s nowhere else to go.”