INFORMATION FROM JEFF TATE, DIRECTOR OF COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT, CITY OF AUBURN
REGARDING PROPOSED RECOMMENDATIONS RELATED TO: ORDINANCE 6817
Ordinance 6817 - Camping on City Property and Admonishment Process
What the business community needs to know:
1. This is a service first approach -- Meaning that we [city staff] work with those experiencing homelessness to offer services and arrange for those services.
2. Services focus first on shelter -- It is important to get folks into a shelter in order to start working with them.
3. Finding the right shelter -- Some folks have kids, some have pets, some are disabled. Not every shelter can serve every person, so we need to find the right shelter for the individual.
4. Provide transportation to the agreed upon shelter -- While the city has its own shelter, we also pay into shelter services outside of the city. We need to help get folks to the right shelter.
So, what happens if we come across someone who is living in an encampment on city owned property, and they refuse the above offerings? We tell them that they either work with us to get help, or they leave the property.
What happens if they still refuse services and also refuse to leave the property? The city has the right to trespass the individual, which is a criminal citation.
Why is the city proposing this?
We already have a service first approach, so the first four items above will remain unchanged with the new ordinance.
Under current rules, instead of a trespass citation described above, we issue a ticket. Tickets are ineffective and actually worsen the situation. Tickets do not get paid because those experiencing homelessness usually can't pay the ticket or will choose not to pay the ticket.
When tickets aren't paid, they go to collections, which will harm someone's future ability to obtain housing or employment.
What does this look like and what does it mean?
The city is about to open a Community Court in May 2021. "Community Court" is a "diversion" court. This means that individuals can go to an alternative court where charges can be completely dropped and removed from a person's record if they agree to get the help they need.
Getting "the help they need" is in the form of services. Those services will be located on site at the same physical location as the court and will operate on the same day. Need a license? Need mental health counseling? Need addiction counseling? Need housing? All such services are offered on site and work in conjunction with what the judge is going to require. The judge says, for example: "I'll eliminate the charge so that it will never appear on your record if you go next door and enroll in treatment." If the individual enrolls in treatment, the judge drops charges.
Trespass citations issued under the proposal will make their way to Community Court.
People will not be spending time in prison for trespass citations... EVER. Under the provisions, we are proposing that it is possible for a person to spend a short period of time in jail for a trespass citation. This will only happen when: (a) a person refuses services, and (b) a person chooses not to leave the city property.
Most individuals will accept help and services that are offered. A few might refuse and choose to move along to another location. Once in a while, a person will refuse service and will refuse to leave. The proposed law allows us to resolve this last situation in the more extreme, unusual and infrequent situations.