Homeless City Hall

Ramenta Cottrell, the director of the city’s Division of Housing and Human Services, right, talks with several of the participants in Friday’s homelessness protest.

The latest chapter in a disagreement between the city of Frederick and advocates for people experiencing homelessness played out relatively quietly Friday afternoon on the lawn of City Hall.

A group of people angry about the removal of a homeless encampment near Highland Street last week sat on the lawn Friday, made signs and pressed the city to take a more aggressive role in providing services for the homeless.

Several people had pitched tents in the area last weekend, and organizers suggested they would again if the city didn’t develop a more robust system for housing those who need it.

There are a lot of people who aren’t happy with the service they’ve received at the shelter the city uses, and they want a more detailed plan for long-term housing for those experiencing homelessness, said Kristen Lundy of the social justice advocacy group Frederick United.

Ramenta Cottrell, the director of the city’s Division of Housing and Human Services, talked with several of the participants Friday and said the city was trying to work with its partners to identify any gaps in services.

“Being able to hear what they’re saying is important,” she said, adding the city would follow up with a response.

Cottrell added, " ... the City of Frederick is focusing on finding adequate solutions and continuing to offer our services, including helping to house them and other immediate needs such as getting them food.

The city was able to temporarily house some of the people who spent the night on the lawn last Saturday night into Sunday. Officials have also been able to find spots for the majority of people who have needed placement over the past year, she said.

The city and its partners house between 100 and 120 people per night at any given time, said Nick Brown, executive director for the Religious Coalition for Emergency Human Needs, one of the city’s main partners in its efforts to fight homelessness.

But there is definitely a pocket of people — probably fewer than 20, Cottrell said — who are much harder to find shelter for because of various circumstances.

Lundy said she expects that people will continue to return to City Hall until their grievances are addressed.

By Friday night, several tents had been pitched on the lawn of City Hall.

Around 8:30 p.m., Lundy said no one from the city had told them whether they would be allowed to stay.

Nkem Wellington, a NAC 11 representative who stopped by the encampment, said situations like this one, while maybe not ideal, encourage people to think about the issue of homelessness and how to help society's most vulnerable.

The city's services are full of people doing good, but any system can always be improved, she said.

Follow Ryan Marshall on Twitter:

@RMarshallFNP

Ryan Marshall is the transportation and growth and development reporter for the News-Post. He can be reached at rmarshall@newspost.com.

(5) comments

Piedmontgardener

It's high time that encampment was closed. These folks don't police their space, the trash and detritus that was strewn on the path up from the Creek was unbelievable prior to the City cleaning it.

LizardS

The tax-paying citizens of Frederick do not need or want city government to encourage the homeless to come here.

AOC

But there is definitely a pocket of people — probably fewer than 20, Cottrell said — who are much harder to find shelter for because of various circumstances.

That is always the case, a selected few who refuse to follow shelter rules. While there are many rules the big 5 are;

• Do not bring weapons, alcohol, illegal drugs or drug paraphernalia into

the Shelter.

• There will be no violence towards anyone, or destruction of the shelter or

anyone’s property. Do not get into arguments with residents, staff members,

or volunteers. Do not hit or touch anyone. Do not take or destroy

anyone’s belongings. Abusive language, including ethnic or sexual defamation,

swearing, sexual harassment, or making fun in a demeaning way, is not

allowed.

• No smoking or drinking alcoholic beverages or using illegal drugs on Shelter properties

(as mentioned previously) are not allowed. This includes but is not limited

to the inside and outside perimeters

• You will be required to do work chores as assigned, and staff must confirm

that your chore has been completed before you leave the building.

These few individuals, unwilling to "follow the rules," believe they should be afforded special privileges. Wrong!

Solutions:

Find a property owner who will allow them to camp on their private property. That is not going to happen.

Enforce the City Code:

Sec. 6-21. - Camping.

(a) Definitions.

(1) In general. For the purposes of this section, the following term has the meaning indicated.

(2) "Camp" means the use of property for living accommodation purposes such as sleeping activities, or making preparations to sleep (including the laying down of bedding for the purpose of sleeping), or storing personal belongings, or making any fire, or using any tents or shelter or other structure or vehicle for sleeping or doing any digging or earth breaking or carrying on cooking activities. The above- listed activities constitute camping when it reasonably appears, in light of all the circumstances, that the participants, in conducting these activities, are in fact using the area as a living accommodation regardless of the intent of the participants or the nature of any other activities in which they may also be engaging.

(b) Camping prohibited. An individual may not camp on any public property, exempting Harry Grove Stadium.

(c) Penalty. Violation of this section is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine not to exceed $1,000 or by imprisonment for not more than 6 months, or by both a fine and incarceration in the discretion of the court. Each day a violation continues is a separate offense.

(Ord. No. G-17-04, § I, 3-16-17)

If the Mayor does not have the stomach to enforce the code, he should allow them to stay is his very large office on the 2nd floor of City Hall.

Of course that may end in December 2021

Non-feasance of office►

* Failure to perform an act that is an official, contractual, or professional duty.

* The intentional failure to perform an official duty or legal requirement. (Sec. 6-21. - Camping.)

bosco

Sarcasm Alert - How "privileged: to expect the hard core homeless to follow the rules of any shelter that is "free" to them. Not following the rules is part of the reason they are homeless in the first place.

Try volunteering at a homeless shelter and see what really happens there. The people who truly want help can get it.

teadoffinfrederickcounty

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