Ohio’s First District Court of Appeals ruled last week that homeless camps can take place on private property in Hamilton County.
This ruling reversed Hamilton County Judge Robert Ruehlman’s decision that put a ban on homeless camps on both private and public property. The ban on public property homeless camps remains in place within Cincinnati; however, the homeless encampment ban can’t be used on private property if it meets Ohio’s water and sanitation regulations.
In Ruehlman’s previous ruling, he determined that homeless camps in Hamilton County were illegal, police officers could seize homeless people’s belongings and arrest people who defy this ruling, according to the Associated Press.
The homeless camp debate began in 2018 after Cincinnati wanted to remove homeless encampments in its downtown. Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley asked Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters to file a lawsuit to help the city clear out homeless people.
Previously, Cranley said in 2018 that the illegal homeless camps presented a “clear and present health and safety hazard to homeless individuals and the general public.”
Ohio’s ACLU chapter represented New Prospect Baptist Church in this lawsuit that wanted to use their 4-acre property for homeless encampments. This lawsuit sought to end the homeless camp ban Hamilton County established in 2018.
“Great news – the City Of Cincinnati Government cannot prevent private property owners (like our client New Prospect Baptist Church) from offering campground space to people experiencing homelessness,” ACLU said on its Facebook page after the court’s decision.
This continues the trend on the number of homeless people decreasing in America. For example, 647,000 people were homeless in 2007, but that number came down to 543,000 last year, according to American Greatness.
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