Community leaders address controversial 'homeless ordinance' - KFDA - NewsChannel 10 / Amarillo News, Weather, Sports

Community leaders address controversial 'homeless ordinance'

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AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) -  Amarillo community leaders are educating residents about a controversial ordinance some say targets the homeless.

Saturday morning, a panel of those leaders hosted a meeting at the Southwest Branch Amarillo Public Library to discuss Ordinance 7333. The ordinance restricts anyone from camping overnight on public property.

The Amarillo City Council is currently reviewing proposed changes to the ordinance that would allow waiving citations when temperatures drop below 40 degrees, when wind chills are extreme or when temperatures are dangerously hot.

The opinions on if there is actually a need for these proposed changes are mixed.

"Every effort is being made to meet their needs, not to criminalize their situation, but to address their true needs," said Community Development Administrator James Allen.

"Look you can say it's camping, but this targets homeless people," said local attorney Ryan Brown. "It's really absurd. No one believes that there is a camping problem here when they're talking about homelessness this whole time. This ordnance targets homeless people and it's illegal. It's reckless and it's mean. It's just a bad law that needs to go away."

"Both sides of this ordnance, the people who oppose it and the people who enforce it, they all have great hearts," said Kelly Stephens, the director of the Panhandle United Way Help-Line. "They have a compassion for homeless people. It's great to see that there is such love and compassion coming from both sides of the issue."

City council members are expected to make a final decision on whether to change the ordinance within the coming weeks.

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