Homeless Make Case for Why They Should Stay Living by the River

DES MOINES, Iowa — Homeless residents, advocates and their legal team made their case before a Polk County judge Monday about why they should be able to keep living, with their possessions, at camp sites near the rivers in Des Moines.

City leaders notified about two dozen homeless people they could no longer live, along with their tents full of personal possessions, on city property. They cited safety and welfare concerns for both the homeless, as well as walkers, runners and cyclists who pass near the homeless camps. The homeless affected appealed the city’s actions.

Some of the homeless faced with eviction spent nearly 6 1/2 hours before a judge at the Des Moines City Hall. One by one they argued that fights and overcrowding don’t make trying to get into a homeless shelter a viable option. Besides, they say, the shelter limits them to a 90 day stay.

City leaders concede there are more homeless than beds. And they say they are working on a longer-term solution for the city’s homeless but say current code mandates the homeless must leave from their camp sites.

Rodney Baysinger said he lives at a camp site with several others. He said he finds occasional temp work but hasn’t been able to find a steady job that allows him to afford an apartment. “Without my tent,” Baysinger told the judge, “I’m at the mercy of insects and everything else.”

Baysinger said he can’t afford to live in traditional housing. So living in a tent by the river is his only alternative.

The judge said she would try to have a ruling on their appeals within 30 days.


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