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Agreement Reached Between ACLU-WV and Wheeling

Picture+depicting+bulldozers+at+the+site+of+the+homeless+encampment.+
Picture depicting bulldozers at the site of the homeless encampment.

The American Civil Liberties Union of West Virginia has officially withdrawn their lawsuit against the city of Wheeling which was filed following the bulldozing of a homeless encampment. An agreement has been drawn in which Wheeling is going to allow a new camp to be set up near 18th street.

Addressing the problem is not chasing the homeless from campsite to campsite around the city. It certainly does not involve bulldozers.

— R.J. Konkoleski

The city bulldozed this encampment in compliance with a new law passed in late 2023 that prevented any camping within public spaces. Various groups such as The Northern Panhandle Continuum of Care (NPCoC) disagreed with these actions. 

“Addressing the problem is not chasing the homeless from campsite to campsite around the city. It certainly does not involve bulldozers.”, said R.J. Konkoleski, CEO of Helping Heroes Inc. and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the NPCoC. 

The NPCoC works to assist and support homeless individuals and is made up of “formerly homeless individuals, advocates, government agencies, and organizations that serve individuals and families who are experiencing homelessness,” Konkoleski also stated.

The city released its official statement on Tuesday, January 22nd stating they were “pleased this matter has been resolved and will move forward in a manner that is consistent with city ordinances and federal case law.” 

While the city may be pleased, many others are still unhappy. 

City council member and mayoral candidate Rosemary Ketchum was one of the two council members who voted against the ordinance.

“While I’m grateful for the momentary reprieve for our homeless community members, I am not satisfied with the agreement in full as the ban is still in place without an adequate number of shelter beds at this time,” said Ketchum.

Ketchum suggested an alternative solution for the problem. 

“I would like to see more formal processes and collaboration between the city and its advocacy partners. This could look like a commission of members focused on vulnerable communities, more staffing, and close adherence to the “5 year plan” provided by the continuum of care,” said Ketchum.  

It is clear that homelessness in Wheeling is an ongoing issue that will continue to be debated upon in the future.

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About the Contributor
Lily Osborne, Staff Writer
  • Journalism I
  • Senior
  • Oglebay Institute dancer, American Cancer Society Youth Board member, Paws for a Cause member, and Freshman Mentor
  • "When you feel like quitting, think about why you started."
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