News, Culture and NPR for Central & Northern Michigan
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
WCMU Radio and Television is off the air in northeast Michigan due to a fire. Click to learn more.

Grand Rapids passes ordinances, critics say new rules criminalizes homelessness

A homeless encampment along a street in Skid Row on Dec. 14, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. Two days earlier, LA Mayor Karen Bass declared a state of emergency regarding homelessness in the city, where an estimated 40,000 residents are unhoused.
Mario Tama/Getty Images
A homeless encampment along a street in Skid Row on Dec. 14, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. Two days earlier, LA Mayor Karen Bass declared a state of emergency regarding homelessness in the city, where an estimated 40,000 residents are 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. Of the pair, one centers on personal property, such as what’s considered excessive property and where that property can be stored, 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.

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, 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." said Purdue.

Meanwhile, Commissioner Mililidna Ysasi said she approved 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 or us and we have to deal with it.” said Ysasi.

Both ordinances go into effect in 30 days.