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Homeless Allowed To Go Back, But Mayor Threatens Legal Action

Ann Thompson
The homeless will be allowed to sleep on Third Street Friday night even though the judge didn't issue a temporary restraining order.

Regarding the homeless campers on Third Street who refuse to leave, Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley says he has "obtained the assistance of Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters" and will be filing actions in both state and federal court.

Cranley's remarks follow an apparent softening of the city's stance on the camp after a Friday phone conference between Federal Judge Timothy Black, city solicitors and the attorneys for the homeless who filed a request for a temporary restraining order.

Friday morning, tent city residents, the Greater Cincinnati Homeless Coalition and the law firm of Cook & Logothetis filed a federal lawsuit against the City of Cincinnati over its threatened removal of the homeless camp along Third Street by 2:00 p.m. Friday.

The emergency filing asked a judge to grant a restraining order, stopping the forced removal.

The attorney representing the homeless, David Cook, says Federal Judge Tim Black denied a temporary restraining order but Cook says he's pleased with the city's response and he's looking for a more definitive solution.

The homeless were given a window where police collected their belongings for return later. The city cleaned the area and allowed them to return to sleep there Friday night.

According to Cook, here is what the city allowed:

  • It extended the clean-up window from approx. 2:00-4:00 p.m.
  • Police tagged belongings to return to the homeless then transported the items to the evidence room and District Five
  • The city transported the homeless to retreive their belongings and to shelters if desired
  • The homeless were allowed to sleep on Third Street Friday night

More than a week ago, the city forced out homeless residents living at Third and Plum. Some moved over to Third Street betweeen Walnut and Plum.

Credit Ann Thompson / WVXU
Desmond Brown says he's not leaving Third Street until police make him.

Desmond Brown, one of the colony's leaders, says not all people want to be in shelters, including himself. 

"I'm going to stay homeless, it's a calling," he says. Brown plans to stay on Third Street until police make him move.

A Greater Cincinnati Homeless Coalition news release says:

The answer to this growing problem is to legislate systems that will result in the building of new affordable housing and prevent the affordable housing we currently have from closure by market rate developers and slumlords and to legislate protections for people who rent against unjust evictions and protect the basic rights of people to seek respite, use the restroom, be safe, rest, sleep, protect their belongings, have community with access to food and clothing and public discourse. While the city invests less than half of one percent of its General Fund into combatting homelessness, and federal pass-through dollars are not increasing, instead of focusing on these desperately needed solutions, the city is choosing to cause further damage to people by forcing people from block to block to block, with no end planned. Knowing that this growing problem of homelessness is city-wide and harming thousands of women, men and children, today, those living outside along Third Street and Pete Rose Way, have filled a federal lawsuit to say that the City must cease focusing on a narrow and harmful perspective of homelessness and instead partner with the thousands of women, men and children in need of affordable housing. Many such lawsuits have been filed across the country to end the criminalization of homelessness and redirect focus to real solutions for all people experiencing homelessness.

Ann Thompson has decades of journalism experience in the Greater Cincinnati market and brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her reporting.