Greensboro City Council approved amending three ordinances during a packed meeting this week. Some community members say the changes could adversely affect the city’s most vulnerable residents.

The first measure makes it unlawful to put objects or substances on a street or other public space. There’s another one that prohibits actions that block or impede street and sidewalk access. The third ordinance focuses on unlawful noise-producing activities.

After a long debate including public concerns over using megaphones during rallies, council added a provision that excludes permitted protests from that measure.

During Monday night’s meeting, several community members said they’re worried about the impact on people experiencing homelessness and those who serve them. In the end, all of the measures were approved. 

“I think these directly criminalize people for something as simple as existing in public space," says Del Stone, with a group called the Working Class and Houseless Organizing Alliance.

If a person is found in violation of the ordinances, they could be charged with a misdemeanor and face up to a $50 fine.

Greensboro mayor Nancy Vaughn says the ordinances are needed.

"We also have an issue with public safety and it has been escalating," she says. "We have heard from people throughout the city who have had issues and we have to do something. We can’t just keep kicking the can down the road.”

Some community members asked city leaders to focus on adding more affordable housing to address homelessness.

Vaughn says voters recently approved a housing bond, and federal COVID relief funds are being directed at the issue. The City of Greensboro is also partnering with county officials on a task force to address homelessness in the community.

Follow WFDD's Keri Brown on Twitter @kerib_news

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