Amarillo Considers Repeal of Homeless Ordinance

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The city of Aarillo tackles the issue of homelessness this week.

City leaders will address an ordinance passed three years ago.

Ordinance 7333 was passed in response to the formation of a so-called tent city.

At the time, dozens of homeless people had set-up makeshift homes under a bridge in downtown Amarillo consisting mostly of tents.

A group of people plan to protest ordinance 7333 Tuesday night during the city council’s regular weekly meeting.

They plan to camp-out on the steps of city hall to bring attention to the ordinance considered heartless by many and unconstitutional by President Obama.

The city passed the ordinance a tent city popped-up under the bridge at 2nd and Pierce.

Homeless people were living in those tents on public property. But, the city made a move to force them out.

“This law does no good. It doesn’t stop homelessness. I mean putting people in jail, giving them criminal records only makes it harder to find a job. Number two it’s illegal. Courts all over the country have struck these down as violating cruel and unusual punishment of constitutional law. If the city really wants to do something, why don’t they set up a homeless shelter? Said Amarillo attorney Ryan Brown.

Brown says ordinances like 7333 were a nationwide response to the homelessness problem following the great recession.

However, cities have begun re-addressing those ordinances after the Obama administration last summer contested so-called camping ordinances calling them unconstitutional.

Brown says being homeless is not a choice, “As it is now, they’ve got no choice. And, we’ve got to pay to house them in jail anyway. So, just make a homeless shelter if you want to make something out of it. And, it’s just mean also.”

The city council will hold a public hearing about the ordinance then form a subcomittee to deal with the issue.

That committee will include citizen representatives among others.

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