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February 7, 2013

Homeless camp sweeps to resume

An updated policy must be approved first

JEFFERSONVILLE — The city of Jeffersonville plans to soon resume sweeps of homeless camps.

The city halted such sweeps after one conducted in late November near the exit 0 overpass on Interstate 65 was completed without the individuals living in the camp being notified and where personal property was confiscated.

The city then put a temporary stop to any additional sweeps until its policy had been revisited.

In the interim, the Jeffersonville-Clarksville Homelessness Task Force held a public forum in January to begin working to address the needs of homeless individuals living in Southern Indiana. And at the Board of Public Works meeting Wednesday, Jeffersonville Mayor Mike Moore said the city’s street department needs to begin conducting the sweeps again.

“I know there’s a proper procedure we’re going to be doing,” he said.

City Attorney Les Merkley said before any new sweeps meant to clean up areas are conducted, a written policy regarding that procedure will need to come before the board of public works for adoption.

Merkley said the city needs to be able to give notice to the homeless living in the camps and it needs to determine how much notice will be given. In addition, the city will need to post signs, determine a policy of what to do with personal property if it is collected, where it will be stored and for how long. 

Paul Stensrud, founder of Jesus Cares at Exit 0 — a volunteer organization that helps the homeless — offered that he would like to see similar requirements in place before the city resumes its sweeps. In addition to the policy requirements that Merkley mentioned, Stensrud offered another possibility for the city in conducting its sweeps.

“We’ll go in and do the cleanup,” he said of Exit 0. ‘We would just like to go ahead and do it for them.” 

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