Chillicothe Council Hears Criticism of Banning Homeless Camps

The Special Session called for Chillicothe Council Thursday afternoon didn't quite work out, but it did give air to some who help the homeless.

Kevin Coleman was there.

Not enough council members showed at 4pm up to pass legislation that council president pro tem Julie Preston wanted, but they will be ready for passage in the next regular session.

Several women spoke on behalf of addressing the homeless situation differently, and not criminalizing them with the ordinance banning camping on city property.

The speakers were medical professional, community organizers, as well as church volunteers.

Aside from saying the homeless need understanding and compassion, they pointed out several flaws with the legislation. That included the effects of PTSD, like how to prove when homeless don't use available services because they can't deal with that kind of situation.

Julie Bolen spoke on the behalf of Ross County Community Action. She said they are doing coordinated outreach efforts at the camps to provide resources and internet linkage to benefits and housing.

Bolen pointed out that loosing two long-term housing facilities has left only the overnight shelter which Community Action also operates, and it has a capacity of only 50 each night. They have served 179 people since January.

Bolen also said the homeless situation is not unique to Chillicothe, and that it has grown after COVID.

Council member Julie Preston said she thinks the ordinance can work along with the volunteers' efforts.

Bolen says Ross County Community Action can be a clearinghouse on helping the homeless. You can learn more, find resources, and make donations at 740 / 702-7222 extension 145. They are also on Facebook.

Kevin Coleman covers local government and culture

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