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Leftists wail as New Hampshire city addresses homelessness problem just days after landmark SCOTUS ruling
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Leftists wail as New Hampshire city addresses homelessness problem just days after landmark SCOTUS ruling

'We won't tolerate ... people breaking our laws or ignoring our ordinances.'

The largest city in New Hampshire has already begun to clean up its streets just days after the U.S. Supreme Court issued a pivotal ruling likely to have a significant impact on the country's growing homelessness problem.

While much of the focus on homelessness has been on California and other West Coast states, Manchester, New Hampshire, has had a major homelessness problem of its own in recent years. Perhaps as many as 140 Manchester residents are homeless, and another 400 or so are living in shelters, the city website said.

'During walks with my kids, we've encountered human excrement. I've had to teach them to be looking out for needles.'

"I'll be frank with you," said Manchester Police Chief Allen Aldenberg. "This has been a strain on this police department and this community as a whole for the last several years."

Last Friday, SCOTUS justices ruled 6-3 that cities can ban sleeping and camping in public areas such as streets and parks. By Tuesday evening, Manchester leaders had already voted to change the city's local ordinances to make public areas safer.

The previous ordinance in Manchester banned public sleeping and camping only from sunrise to sunset, a measure that could be enforced only when space was available at local shelters.

On Tuesday, Mayor Jay Ruais and the city's aldermen met and voted overwhelmingly, 14-1, to ban public camping entirely, effective immediately. The measure gives police the option to impose a $250 fine on violators, and the city also allotted police an extra $500,000 to help with enforcement.

Despite the apparent enthusiasm for the new ordinance from local leaders, some residents spoke out against it during the public comment portion of the meeting. Often echoing tired platitudes, these critics expressed deep sympathy for the homeless population but seemingly little concern for area families.

"We cannot arrest our way out of homelessness," said one man.

"Unhoused people need homes, not handcuffs," added a woman.

One woman has even bragged that she regularly visits homeless encampments and does not believe they pose a threat to public safety. "I often walk through the homeless encampments while walking around town," said Phoebe Youman. "I'm a young woman. I'm under five feet tall, and I walk alone most times, and not once have the people living on the streets or living in their cars made me uncomfortable or harassed me, let alone caused a safety risk."

An area father and business owner took a decidedly different view. "I've seen camps set up on school property where our children, where my children, should feel safe and secure," said Adam Alvarez, a Manchester native.

"During walks with my kids, we've encountered human excrement. I've had to teach them to be looking out for needles."

Mayor Ruais has since defended the measure and slammed those accusing him and others of unfairly attacking the homeless.

"This is not criminalizing [homelessness]," he said. "Nobody's going to jail as a result of this. This is the deterrence effect."

Ruais also noted that the city does offer assistance to those who want and ask for it. "What we won't tolerate is people breaking our laws or ignoring our ordinances," he said.

Police Chief Aldenberg added that homeless residents may use public parks like anyone else — so long as they abide by the rules.

"If they want to be in the parks as well and act appropriately and not drink there, not urinate there, not sleep there, then they're more than welcome to be there, as well," he said.

Aldenberg also indicated that the new ordinance will allow all Manchester residents to enjoy their beautiful city: "People that want to come and sit in the park with their family on a nice day like today ... [will] feel more comfortable doing so."

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Cortney Weil

Cortney Weil

Sr. Editor, News

Cortney Weil is a senior editor for Blaze News.
@cortneyweil →