Fort Worth City Council passes ordinance in effort to shut down homeless camps

Fort Worth city leaders passed a new rule requiring written permission for people to camp on private property.

The new ordinance is part of an effort to make it easier for police to shutdown homeless camps in the city. The city council voted unanimously to approve the ordinance.

The ordinance was proposed because property owners in Fort Worth complain they’re dealing with people camping on their land or lots. It is typically happening to people who live on an acre or more or to property owners who live out of town.

The ordinance would require homeless people to either have written permission from the property owner to camp on their property or face a $500 fine.

Police say enforcing current trespassing laws doesn't require homeless campers to have written permission, so police must find the property owners to check out the claim.

The city council heard from residents who showed pictures of camps on their properties with human waste, liquor bottles and needles. They also heard from people who say the ordinance is “dehumanizing” to the city’s most vulnerable.

A homeless man was among those who spoke. He told the council he does keep his camp clean, and he prefers it over the shelters.

“I am homeless. I don’t know how I’m going to come up with $500 if I am fined,” the man said. “I’m in a wheelchair and I can’t even get in a housing program. I’ve been trying for two years.”

“These homeless people with no respect for themselves or for others invade our businesses and our properties,” said resident Judy Taylor.

Some people spoke about how cleaning up the camps on their properties would cost them thousands of dollars.

There were also people who said people should better care for the homeless than be concerned about having a “pretty” city.