Tucson City Council approves new homeless ordinance

Tucson City Council approves new homeless ordinance

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - The Tucson City Council approved a new homeless ordinance in a 5-2 vote at their meeting on Dec. 8, prompting some concern among community members.

The changes are aimed at the downtown library grounds.

Several protesters, some of which are homeless, showed up to the meeting and said the rules are only going to make life harder than it already is.

"Life is already hard enough," said Roy Trout, a homeless man from Tucson. "I've seen this personally."

Jacome Plaza, the open area around the downtown library will operate like every other city park and be closed from dusk until dawn

Also under the changes, local charity groups will no longer be allowed to feed the homeless on the grounds or nearby sidewalks without a permit issued by the county health department. The department can refuse a permit if it feels there is a cause for concern over public health.

No permit will be required for distributing water, or on Thanksgiving, Christmas or Easter.

"What is the problem with serving a homeless man food and having a picnic in a park," Trout said. "Why would they require a permit for a homeless man to have a picnic with a church?"

Possessions, which can be stored on the sidewalks, are restricted to no more than three cubic feet of space.

Council members brought in boxes to the meeting to represent the amount of space, but for people like Nora Morales, that's taking it too far.

"That's a blanket, a sleeping bag and maybe a few other things," Morales said. "How can they tell us what we need to live on or not? It's cold outside right now. One blanket is not going to cut it. How can you tell us that I have to fit my whole life in four little tiny boxes? It's ridiculous."

Also, the ordinance calls for a person to be allowed to sleep on a sidewalk from 10 p.m. until 7 a.m., but only under certain restrictions. Tents and structures will no longer be allowed in the parks.

Copyright 2015 Tucson News Now. All rights reserved.