GILROY CA. - Gilroy city leaders voted to approve an ordinance that would ban camping or sleeping in certain areas of the city. The city says the ban partially has to do with any homeless people trying to camp near schools. But homeless advocates, like Tim Davis, the executive director of South County Compassion Center, are concerned about how this ban will be enforced.
“Every day is a struggle to get the necessary supplies,” Davis said. “Most people are trying to find food and shelter. So disrupting this band by doing this ban actually puts them in harm's way it makes it more dangerous for them.”
Tim Davis said that this ban along with the ongoing sweeps at camps has only caused more stress for people without a place to stay.
“We had a sweep at the highway 101 at 10 Street overpass,” Davis said. “and one individual died of a heart attack from that displacement. So it's really impacting the folks who are unhoused but it's also impacting the city of Gilroy.”
The ban restricts homeless people from sleeping or camping along creeks, bridges, and near schools. Something Gilroy mayor Marie Blankley said is important to keep the community safe.
“These are things that are matters of direct public safety, school parents, daycare operators, who have all been asking us to do something about issues that are occurring, where children are playing, " Blankley said. “What they're finding and what is happening while they're at school or trying to get to school."
Blankley also said that there are allocated and specifically trained officers that will be the ones enforcing this ordinance that can also provide resources for the homeless.
“We have to have an additional or whole police department we have on staff to will be called quality of life officers,” Blankley said. “And they're the ones who make direct contact with those who are unhoused transients, anyone who needs help connecting to available services, and they, they help ascertain what the need might be, and how to most directly address it"
Mayor Blankley also told KION that the city allocates $103,000 a year of federal funds, and $464,000 to all of the local nonprofits to help alleviate issues related to homelessness.
The City of Gilroy voted 6-1 to pass the ordinance Monday at the city council meeting.