There will be a Community Input Session to address “disruptive behavior downtown” (such as the disruptive behavior of sitting!) this Thursday, August 13th 7-8pm at Aztlan Community Center, 112 Willow St
The Sit/Lie ordinance and “disruptive behavior plan” will first be discussed in City Council work session on Tuesday August 25th 6pm at City Hall West, 300 LaPorte Ave, Fort Collins, CO.
Fort Collins Homeless Coalition Responds to the City’s Actions Regarding Homelessness and “Disruptive Behaviors”
Fort Collins–The Fort Collins Homeless Coalition (FCHC), an origination made up mostly of community members who are homeless, learned of the intention of City’s Leadership Team to pass an ordinance that would prohibit people from sitting or lying down for a specific period of time in public places. Similar ordinances have been passed in other cities and have been proven both to be ineffective and to do nothing more than target homeless people. The City is hosting a community forum on August 13th and the ordinance would go through first reading on the regular City Council meeting on August 18th.
The City’s Office of Social Sustainability has been working on a Homelessness Action Plan that will be discussed at City Council’s August 25th work session. The plan is the product of much hard work by Beth Sowder, the Director of Social Sustainability. Beth has done an excellent job outreaching to FCHC to build meaningful relationships. It is FCHC’s position that the City should not take action prior to fully discussing the plan, because such action would be damaging not only to the homeless community but to all of Fort Collins.
Sitting and sleeping is a human need. Further criminalizing people who are carrying out those needs is inhumane. In the wake of last week’s Statement of Interest filed by the U.S. Department of Justice, which stated that ” …punishing conduct that is a universal and unavoidable consequence of being human violates the Eighth Amendment,” Fort Collins should not work recklessly to target homeless people.
The City’s stated goal of making homelessness “rare, short-lived, and nonrecurring” will not be met by implementing laws that force homeless community members further into the shadows.
Introducing any ordinance on August 18th would usurp the City’s own process, by acting prior to fully examining the Homelessness Action Plan . The on-line survey that the city has implemented is extremely biased and will not produce any meaningful information.
The City sent a delegation of community leaders Burlington, VT this past weekend to learn about their successful street outreach program.
Any information gleaned from the August 13th forum as well as the VT trip should be a part of the discussion at the August 25th work session, and any action should be taken by Council should take place after that work session and should always be based on data-driven, evidence based practices.