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Committee of the Whole drops homeless ordinance

Committee of the Whole drops homeless ordinance

Springfield’s Committee of the Whole has decided not to proceed with an ordinance banning homeless from sleeping on the benches outside the public Lincoln Library overnight.

In order to pass through Committee, the ordinance needs six votes by Springfield aldermen. The ordinance only got five votes Tuesday night.

That's when Ward 8 Alderman Kris Theilen prompted a request to bring the ordinance back to Committee of the Whole. That request was voted on, but again only received five votes.

Ald. Herman Senor, Ald. Doris Turner, Ald. Andrew Proctor, Ald. Kristin DiCenso, and Ald. Jim Donelan voted against the ordinance and Ald. Theilen's request. That means the ordinance is "dead" or not expected to come up again.

Some aldermen who voted against the ordinance said they are open to this idea, but needed a more solid plan in place.

Dozens of Springfield residents came to the meeting Tuesday with opinions on what to do with Springfield’s homeless population downtown.

"People don't want to go down there because they don't want to walk through the gauntlet to get into the building,” Ward 1 Alderman Chuck Redpath said. “We've had complaints from our own employees that they can't even get out of the parking garage because they have to walk through feces and urine every day and all kinds of other stuff."

Some said they've been faced with aggressive run-ins with these individuals.

"The interaction we had with one guy, we just told him we said we didn't have any money, he assaults my father,” Springfield resident Zain Ridgeway. “He walked up to him, cussed at him profanely, went to go and kick him. My father went to go block his kick and hit, I believe it was his left forearm."

The proposed ordinance would have banned the homeless from gathering outside the library from nine at night until seven in the morning.

"It's a tune to kicking a dog when it's down,” Springfield resident Frank Tyree said. "You kick the problem down the street, that's not solving the problem."

Springfield's mayor sponsored the proposal, and said he wants the homeless to instead go to shelters and work on getting off the streets.

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