We are scholars of housing policy, urban planning, community development, sociology, and law. And we are nonprofit and advocacy organizations that work for justice for everyone. We write, together, to provide a unified voice in support of Second Chance Village. Second Chance Village is a last resort for people who have been pushed out of other parts of the City. Encampments such as Second Chance Village save lives. Disbanding this sanctuary would jeopardize the safety of its residents and would be illegal.The full letter with supporting arguments and evidence is below.
The City of Akron has spent far too much time over years attempting to criminalize and exclude people experiencing homelessness. For several years, the City has descended on encampments, seizing everyone’s belongings, including donated tents, blankets, personal mementos, legal documents, and other prized personal possessions. The Kramer Legal Clinic at Case Western Reserve Law School previously filed a suit, arguing that this practice violated the Constitution. The City settled, paying for the damage it caused and agreeing to a protocol before disbanding encampments in the future.
When harassing encampments in the past, the City argued they were unlawful because the property owner did not agree to house an encampment. But, now that a property owner has generously welcomed his neighbors — providing facilities and trying to accommodate the concerns that neighbors and the City had — the City concludes people seeking shelter are not welcome there, either. We write to change the City’s view.