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Homeless Suing the Sheriff
CINCINNATI (Deb Dixon) -- After a month of trying to connect homeless people who sleep on the courthouse steps with services, the Sheriffs department says its time to go.
Thursday night anyone sleeping on the courthouse steps will be asked to leave.
Wednesday Cincinnatis Homeless Coalition filed a suit to keep that from happening. The suit says the homeless have a constitutional right to sleep on the steps of a public building.
Shafter Jinks is homeless. He says hes been assaulted physically and verbally, and the courthouse steps is a safe place for him to sleep.
But Major Charmaine McGuffey with the Sheriffs Department says it is a health hazard. Courthouse workers who arrive there in the morning have to smell urine and walk through feces and garbage to get to their jobs. The Sheriff keeps the bathrooms in the Justice Center open, but McGuffey says the problem persists.
The Sheriff supported a month long effort to connect the homeless with services. Two deputies were assigned to work with outreach workers to get homeless citizens connected with mental health professionals and into shelters.
By all accounts its been successful.
Dorine Sherrill was sleeping on the courthouse steps, now she has a caseworker, a job and is in line to get an apartment.
She says, "I was hopeless before. Now I have hope. I feel good, I have a chance to get back on my feet."
Outreach worker Chico Lockhart says not everybody on the streets wants a place to go. But tomorrow night they will have to go someplace other than the courthouse steps, or risk the possibility of arrest.
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