ASHLAND, Ore. —The city of Ashland is sharing more about its approach to public camping. One group is working to make a statement about its public camping rights.
City leadership says it’s sparking a lot of conversation around town. This was the scene in front of the Ashland Police Department Monday. Since the end of January, a group of homeless individuals has been rallying with their colorful tents in popular Ashland areas.
Homeless advocates are calling it the Stop-Hunting Us Protest. Joseph Gibson is leading the charge. He tells us he’s been houseless since 2012 and believes he has the right to camp anywhere.
“So they give us a 72-hour notice you can’t camp here you have to remove this campsite, we pick up then we move here to the police station then they gave us a notice within a day we picked up then we went to Triangle Park, then the property between the library and firehouse,” said Gibson.
Both Oregon State Law and Ashland Municipal Code say that 72-hour notices must be given to those camping in public places before relocating or removing campers.
“I’m not like most houseless people, I’m actually home free so I was raised hippie traveling whatnot so my being out here in this tent is a protest I have properties where I can go and be and do my nomadic thing,” said Gibson.
The city says Ashland Police enforce state law and camping ordinances when complaints are made or a situation becomes unmanageable.
“It’s a complicated issue because there’s both the need for people to have a secure place to sleep and there’s also the communities need to have clean streets and the ability for people to access that area,” said Ashland Mayor Tonya Graham.
Mayor Graham says it just goes to show the lack of accessible affordable housing in the area. Says the city works with a number of organizations to help provide services for homeless people like options for helping residents of Ashland or OHRA.
“This tent protest has created a lot of conversation in Ashland, people are wondering what’s happening with these community members, and were making sure that services are being offered to them and they are being treated respectfully,” said Graham.
For Gibson and the group, he says they will continue moving around the city like this as long as it takes.
The city does offer an emergency weather shelter to warm up when conditions warrant it.
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