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Plan defeated to ban homeless outside Springfield library

July 11, 2018

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — The city council has defeated an effort to keep homeless people from sleeping outside the Springfield public library, and the mayor said he would try to find alternative solutions to the end problem.

Critics said ticketing the homeless and not offering an alternative would be the wrong approach. The proposed ordinance was defeated Tuesday.

“To suggest ticketing homeless people is ludicrous,” said Alderman Kristin DiCenso said. “We are criminalizing poverty, and I personally find that repulsive.”

Mayor Jim Langfelder said he proposed the ordinance in response to concerns about safety. Supporters said restricting access to library property after hours would be no different than closing parks overnight.

“We do have a homeless problem, and the mayor is starting some place,” Alderman Chuck Redpath said. “This is the best place to start. We need to clean this thing up. It’s a black eye on the city of Springfield to leave it the way it is.”

Alderman Jim Donelan said he believes the mayor can shut down the library grounds without input from the council. Langfelder said he’ll next work with a group to discuss other solutions.

Some residents asked council members to be compassionate. Sheila Beebe, 64, said a son who suffers from post-traumatic stress had spent a night outside the library.

“I can’t stand the thought of making it so that he was breaking the law for just sleeping on a bench,” Beebe said.

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Information from: The State Journal-Register, http://www.sj-r.com

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