Joint meeting of city, county human rights commissions builds on interlocal agreement

Screenshot of the joint meeting of the human rights commissions for Bloomington and Monroe County on April 26, 2021.

On Monday, the human rights commissions for Bloomington and for Monroe County convened a first-ever joint session.

Among other areas of collaboration, the two groups want to make it easier for local residents to get help with human rights issues.

The idea is that someone who’s in a crisis should not have to make an effort to figure out which of the two commissions should handle their complaint.

A common online complaint form is one of the technical tools the two groups want to use to simplify procedures from the perspective of a resident.

According to assistant city attorney Barbara McKinney, it was the first time a joint meeting of the two commissions had ever taken place.

Monday’s meeting served as a way to start working through some details of the collaboration between the two groups that has been in the works for at least a few months.

The meeting built on an interlocal agreement ratified by Monroe County commissioners early this year. Continue reading “Joint meeting of city, county human rights commissions builds on interlocal agreement”

Proposed ordinance giving protections to houseless encampments gets a look from Bloomington human rights group

A proposed ordinance on encampments of houseless people in city parks got some scrutiny from Bloomington’s human rights commission at the group’s regular meeting on Monday.

The commissioners voted 3–0 with two abstentions to endorse the proposed ordinance, with some caveats.

The proposed law is set for deliberations on Wednesday by the city council’s committee of the whole. No vote on enactment will be taken at the committee meeting.

The law was proposed by city council sponsors Matt Flaherty, Kate Rosenbarger, and Isabel Piedmont-Smith, after a decision by Bloomington’s mayor, John Hamilton, to clear a Seminary Park encampment in early December and again in mid-January.

Highlights of the proposed new law include a requirement of 15-day notice before a camp displacement.

Also under the proposed ordinance, the city could not displace a camp unless there is sufficient available “permanent housing” or “transitional housing” as defined by federal HUD regulations. Emergency shelters would not count towards available housing.

On Monday, commissioners dug a bit into the proposed new law. Continue reading “Proposed ordinance giving protections to houseless encampments gets a look from Bloomington human rights group”

Bloomington human rights commission waits for specific wording before voting to support possible protections for park encampments

At their Monday meeting, Bloomington’s human rights commissioners seemed supportive of a possible new law that would protect homeless encampments in city parks.

Screen shot of the Jan. 25, 2021 Bloomington human rights commission meeting.

The proposed new law comes after a decision by Bloomington’s mayor, John Hamilton, to clear a Seminary Park encampment in early December  and again in mid-January.

The proposed new Bloomington law is modeled on an Indianapolis ordinance.

But city human rights commissioners wanted to see the specific wording of Bloomington’s ordinance before voting to support it.

As commissioner Carolyn Calloway-Thomas put it, “I will have to lay eyes on the language that’s constituted now, because there might be some differences stylistically and otherwise, during the translation from Indianapolis to Bloomington.” Calloway-Thomas is a professor African American and African diaspora studies at Indiana University.

The new law, which got some discussion at a city council work session last Friday (Jan. 22) is co-authored by councilmembers Matt Flaherty and Kate Rosenbarger.

City councilmembers did not attend the human rights commission meeting on Monday.

Speaking in support of the proposed new ordinance on Monday was Monroe County county human rights commissioner Vauhxx Booker, who provided the impetus for the new legislation. Continue reading “Bloomington human rights commission waits for specific wording before voting to support possible protections for park encampments”