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Homeless Camp At Third And Plum Gets Temporary Reprieve From City

homeless camps
Ann Thompson
Dozens of tents line the camp under an overpass at Third and Plum streets in downtown Cincinnati near Paul Brown Stadium.

Updated: Thursday, 4:00 p.m.

Cincinnati officials are delaying a plan to clear a homeless camp under the highway ramp on Third Street at Plum.

Acting City Manager Patrick Duhaney announced the compromise during a special council meeting Thursday afternoon.

"All parties agreed that we will give them until Wednesday morning, and by Wednesday morning they will vacate the encampment underneath the highway bypass on Third and Plum and also on Third Street," Duhaney said.

The city will send a mobile health clinic to the campsite Friday to check residents, and representatives of Shelterhouse and Prince of Peace Lutheran Church will be there to talk with people about their future plans.

The city will meet with stakeholders again Monday to discuss long-term solutions to the issue.

Council Member Tamaya Dennard helped worked on the compromise reached Thursday.

"We want to make sure everybody is safe," Dennard said. "There's no part of me that doesn't want to make sure everybody is safe. But there's a way to do this in a humane way, where we see people for who they are, not necessarily for what they are experiencing."

Originally the city planned to clear and sanitize the homeless camp Friday citing concerns about health issues, and possible illegal activity including human trafficking and drug trafficking.

WVXU's Hanselman tweeted about the delay just before the meeting started. 

David Walker has been living at the camp for a month-and-a-half.

After a stint in prison and lack of family support, Walker finds himself homeless. "Even if we have to leave that just means we have to go someplace else and the problem is still here," he told WVXU Thursday morning, before council held its meeting. "It's not going away. Yeah, they might make money off their football and this is an eyesore but this is the reality of the situation."

Walker points to Paul Brown Stadium, just a short distance away, where football season is approaching.

"Homelessness is a problem and it's hard to say who is down here for what," he says. "There's people here with mental illness who don't have meds. There's people here who just don't have a place. There's several different reasons that we could come up with."

Homeless advocate and co-founder of Maslow's Army Samuel Landis agrees. Once homeless himself, Landis explains each one of the dozens living on Third near Plum have different needs, including mental health.

With the camp still standing for now, he says "We're going to claim victory here...this is not a one size fits all issue." 

Mayor John Cranley issued a statement Wednesday calling the situation a public health emergency and the city's response is necessary to ensure safety.