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February 28, 2013

Jeffersonville homeless sweeps resolution gets OK

48-hours notice to be given

JEFFERSONVILLE — The Jeffersonville Board of Public Works adopted a resolution Wednesday that it hopes will resolve issues that have arisen from the city’s sweeps of area homeless camps.

A task force was created following the sweep of a homeless camp in late November near the exit 0 overpass on Interstate 65. Complaints were filed with the city following the sweep in regards to no notice being given of the sweep and that personal property was confiscated.

The city put a hold to any additional sweeps until the policy had been revisited.

City Attorney Les Merkley presented a resolution the city believes is a solution.

“Basically, this addresses any temporary shelters or personal property that is located on public property,” he said. “It is important if we want to do these sweeps, we implement some written policies and procedures.”

Among the written procedures adopted were for the city to post 48-hour notice before it removes any temporary shelter on public property. If the shelter remains after the notice has been posted, it can be removed and will be stored by the city for 30 days. If a shelter is removed, a notice will be placed at the site that provides contact information for the city and notifies the individual of where their belongings have been taken. If the items are not claimed within 30 days, the city can either continue to store the items or dispose of them.

The same policy and procedures were outlined for personal property taken during a sweep.

One other provision included in the resolution Merkley noted as being particularly important. He said the policy outlines that prior to undertaking a planned sweep, the city shall use reasonable efforts to reach out to agencies that assist with homelessness in the area.

“If we do a good job of communicating with those agencies, and specifically with exit 0,  I think we can alleviate a lot of these problems,” Merkley said.

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