The City of Amarillo is following through on its threat to sue a local landowner for allowing a homeless encampment to reside on his property. As The Texas Observer reports, Amarillo officials announced last week that they would take Melvin McEwen to court over the homeless tent village.
Officials say McEwen is ignoring local laws by allowing the roughly 30 homeless to stay on his land. If he loses the case, McEwan stands to owe the city over $150,000 as of press time, in addition to the price of hiring an attorney and paying other legal costs.
The tent camp has become a cause célèbre for homeless advocates statewide. They say local laws disallowing sleeping outdoors or in vehicles are part of a cruel trend to criminalize homelessness in America. The city claims the camp endangers public health. Nevertheless, it’s extremely rare for a local government to sue one of its citizens for giving aid to the homeless.