Homeless given 72 hours to leave downtown camp

CINCINNATI (AP) — Dozens of homeless people were given 72 hours to vacate a downtown Cincinnati encampment consisting of tents, furniture and blankets under an order issued by city officials Monday.

Citing health and safety issues, city officials said they will close the site located under an overpass by the end of the week. Residents have until Thursday morning to gather their belongings and leave. Officials will begin to sanitize the area Friday.

A city spokesman said officials handed out about 40 notices to residents, mostly men and some women.

But they weren’t in a hurry to leave. Instead, they lounged in plastic lawn chairs, joking with one another. Some napped to avoid the midday heat. Supporters drove their cars up to the encampment to deliver donations of clothes, toiletries and peanut butter crackers. Two crates of milk cartons — placed as far out of the sun as possible — spoiled quickly, but people drank them anyway.

One camp resident, Latasha Butte, 22, combed through a bag of women’s clothes before spending her afternoon reading. Butte, who’s pregnant with twins, is a relative newcomer to the community below the underpass, but her husband Jeff Stark has lived there on and off for 15 years. Stark said the encampment is just like any other neighborhood, complete with its own local artist and grocery store. Everyone runs errands for one other, sharing whatever they can in exchange.

Stark said it was ridiculous the entire area would be closed off.

“People have been here for years,” he said. “We’re out of the elements and out of everyone else’s way.”

Some residents are adamant they will stay. One man who gave his name as Wow Wow said he plans to stage a sit-in.