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Chillicothe considering ordinance that some say targets homeless

The City of Chillicothe is looking to stop anyone from being allowed to camp or sleep overnight on city property.

CHILLICOTHE, Ohio — The City of Chillicothe is looking to stop allowing anyone to camp or sleep overnight on city property. City Council removed the mention of homelessness from a proposed ordinance, but that didn't stop those in attendance from bringing it up.

For Rosie Darling speaking at Monday night's Safety Service Committee meeting in the city of Chillicothe was challenging because she used to be homeless.

Darling was one of several neighbors who spoke out against a proposed ordinance by the City of Chillicothe that would not allow camping or temporary housing on city property.

A portion of the ordinance was removed that was the only reference that specifically mentions homelessness.

“It's bad legislation, it shouldn't be passed out of your committee,” one resident said.

"I am all in favor of what you are trying to do here. I don't believe you're trying to criminalize anyone here, but I want a safe Chillicothe,” said another resident said.

Anyone found sleeping or camping on city property would be charged with a misdemeanor.

Ross County Community Action Commission said homelessness is increasing within the city. They said in they counted 72 homeless people in 2021. So far this year, there have been more than 350.

 No one from council wanted to speak with 10TV on camera about the issue, but we did hear from Councilmember Julie Preston in the meeting, saying the ordinance will help police.

 “We still need this ordinance that affects our officers' ability to clean up some of the issues we have in the park and other areas of the city,” Preston said.

But for neighbors like Darling, the ordinance can't help but feel personal.

“It really irritates me because I have a brother who is homeless and dealing with addiction that stays in the park. What's going to happen if they get arrested?” Darling said.

 There are still a few steps before the measure would be passed. The earliest it could be passed is next month. It would take effect immediately after approval.

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