Hamilton County homeless
5:51 pm
Tue October 15, 2013

Coalition going to court over sheriff's homeless strategy

The Greater Cincinnati Homeless Coalition is suing the Hamilton County Sheriff's Department over a policy to remove the homeless from the courthouse steps. Commission executive director Josh Spring says Sheriff Jim Neil's department will start threatening arrest this week. Spring wants to wait until after the winter shelters open in a month and a half.

Credit Ann Thompson / WVXU

The Sheriff and Major Charmaine McGuffey were guests on Cincinnati Edition today where the sheriff's homeless strategy was one of the topics. McGuffey said the department  has been patient.

"We're going to continue to ask for housing.  We're going to continue to try and find solutions for homeless people,"  she said.  "I think at one point in time we do have to engage some type of immediacy.  If people don't have an immediacy there's no reason for them to move on.  There's no reason for them to seek housing and a better situation when they think, or they know, that we're going to continue to have soft enforcement and we're going to allow them to stay where they are."

Last month, the Sheriff's Department announced a three-phase approach in dealing with the homeless who are sleeping and defecating on county property. It includes identifying their needs and getting them help, removing them from the site and then cleaning up the damaged buildings.

The Greater Cincinnati Homeless Coalition is planning a news conference to talk about its lawsuit Wednesday afternoon.