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Responding to Eviction Notices to the Homeless

Written by: Communicator StaffDecember 09, 2014

Justin Dials

Several outraged citizens spoke at the Dec. 9 Fort Wayne City Council meeting, addressing the eviction of a dozen homeless people from the Fort Wayne riverfront on Nov. 13.

All four speakers that addressed city council expressed disappointment in the way that the Fort Wayne Police Department handled the eviction.  The main complaint was the threat of seizing and discarding of the property of the homeless.

According to Sally Segerson, the founder of Street Reach for the Homeless, an organization that feeds and clothes the homeless, 12 homeless people who were living on the riverfront were given a notice by police saying that they had 24 hours to vacate the premises under threats to seize and destroy any property left on the riverfront.

“The part that I came with the biggest objection to is that threat of not only arrest, but the actual saying that we will take your property and, not only take your property, but discard your property,” Segerson said.

The legality of the eviction was also called into question.  Segerson stated that the U.S.  9th circuit court of appeals ruled on a similar case that the destruction of property was forbidden by the United States Constitution under the 4th and 14th amendment.  Segerson stated that for the police to threaten discarding property, “it had to either be abandoned, it had to be a health and safety risk, it had to be a part of contraband, or it had to be a part of a crime,” also saying that, “to remove items just because you break a cited ordinance, that clearly goes against the 14th amendment in regards to homelessness.”

The violations listed on the notice given to the homeless by police stated that they were in violation of 7 city ordinances including damaging property, no fires, and alcohol not being permitted in park.

The speakers were not there solely to express their disapproval of what occurred on Nov. 13 but also to make a plea to city council on behalf of the welfare of Fort Wayne’s homeless in general.

Lexi Fretz, a member of a homeless feeding organization called Food Not Bombs, said, “I feel like we have been so driven and focused on developing our city that we have forgotten about our brothers and sisters in the streets.” She also stated that to improve the lives of Fort Wayne’s homeless, “we must refuse the idea of homeless people as objects.”

Councilman Glynn Hines announced that an open meeting to discuss possible solutions to Fort Wayne’s homeless problem will be held at the Macmillan Community Center on Jan. 17.