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GR passes ordinances that critics say unfairly target unhoused


The City of Grand Rapids voted to adopt two ordinances Tuesday night aimed at what it says will provide safe spaces for all. However, critics say the new rules criminalize homelessness.

City commissioners passed the two ordinances by a 5 to 2 vote.

Of the pair, one centered on personal property, such as what’s considered excessive property and where that property can be stored when out in public. The other defines what’s considered “loitering” and “accosting.”

Both were criticized by more than a dozen public commenters for targeting the city’s unhoused.

The two ordinances faced similarpushback from community members during a July 11 meeting, where commissioners denied that the ordinances criminalized the unhoused. Commissioners claimed the ordinances

The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan also weighed in on the matter in a July 6 letter that urged Mayor Rosalynn Bliss and city commissioners to vote against the ordinances. Bliss ultimately voted in support of both of the proposals Tuesday night.

Commissioner Kelsey Purdue acknowledged the strength of the proposals and called it an example of compromise, but voted against the ordinances out of concern that the decision was happening too fast.

 “I have not seen significant engagement with service providers and I fear this will lead to gaps and unintended consequences that we might not yet see,” she said during the meeting. “In the last few days as I’ve talked with providers they’ve brought up great questions that should also be part of this conversation and up for consideration.”

Meanwhile, Commissioner Mililidna Ysasi said she approves of the ordinances because of the city’s investment in rapid rehousing and other programs to help the unhoused.

“This is sort of the best of a not great situation that no one here really created, that individuals are experiencing in many different ways that are in front of us and we have to deal with it,” Yasai said.

Both ordinances go into effect in 30 days.

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