- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 4, 2014

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) - Springfield officials said they have changed how the city will relocate homeless people, following criticism of a city action last week in which workers broke up a homeless camp without giving prior notice to those who were living there.

Officials said Monday that those living in homeless camps will be given 24 hours’ notice before they have to move and advocates for the homeless will be notified to help them find places to live, The Springfield News-Leader reported (https://sgfnow.co/1kKWK4Q ).

Advocates for the homeless questioned some aspects of the new policy but were hopeful the change would improve coordination with the city.

“I think this is a really good jumping-off point for the city and local homeless advocates to start a discussion, which is really needed,” said Heather Kennedy, who helped some homeless people move last week.

City officials said only one homeless camp with two male residents was broken up by city workers last week because it was on city property clearly marked with “no trespassing” signs.

However, homeless advocates said they received reports that more camps were evacuated at the same time, some on private property.

“There was a lot of incorrect information spread about this issue,” City Manager Greg Burris said in the release. “The Springfield Police Department and Public Works responded appropriately to this situation. We have listened, however, to the feedback from citizens reacting to this particular issue, and have standardized how we will respond in the future.”

Terra Salinas, an advocate for the homeless, said the new protocol was a start.

“I think this is a really good jumping-off point for the city and local homeless advocates to start a discussion, which is really needed,” she said.

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Information from: Springfield News-Leader, https://www.news-leader.com

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