Chris Schulz Published

Wheeling Suspends Public Camping Ban

A homeless man sleeps next to a cart full of his possessions.Wikimedia Commons

The city of Wheeling has agreed to temporarily suspend its urban camping ban. 

The ordinance bans camping on public property in the city, punishable by a fine of up to $500. City workers cleared an encampment behind the Nelson Jordan Center last week.

The city agreed to exempt a camping site at a leased parking lot near the Catholic Charities Neighborhood Center. Catholic Charities, along with other homeless agency partners, are developing rules for this temporary exemption. It is anticipated that this area will begin immediately. The city said it is a temporary location subject to further discussions with Catholic Charities. 

The city will also temporarily pause enforcement of the ordinance to give people time to move their belongings to the exempted site.  

The American Civil Liberties Union of West Virginia dismissed their suit against the city of Wheeling after the exemption was announced. The suit has asked for an injunction as well as declaratory relief finding that the ban and forced removals are an unconstitutional practice.

In a press release, ACLU West Virginia Legal Director Aubrey Sparks said she and others “hope the city will work with service providers and advocates on solutions that are not just constitutional, but also humane, practical and compassionate.”