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.
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.