Springfield weighs change to homeless-directed camping ban


Springfield’s camping ban does not comply with a new state law protecting the homeless, according to city officials.

Sleeping on public property is currently punishable by a civil fine in Springfield. But on Monday, city attorney Mary Bridget Smith told the city council that this creates legal risk.

The new state law says that any camping restrictions must be “objectively reasonable” for all stakeholders. It also allows homeless individuals to challenge that standard in court.

Local governments can still regulate time, place and manners for those sleeping outside. But Bridget Smith said the law holds governments responsible if they do not provide a safe alternative.

“You can still regulate people or prohibit still looking outside if you truly have a place for people to go, but if you don’t have a place for people to go, then you’re not prohibiting it.”

Springfield’s City Council will revisit the issue in January, ahead of a July 2023 deadline.


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