Dubuque updates camping ordinance giving police more authority to move homeless

In 2021, they had 5-homeless camps. That number jumped to 15 so far this year.
In 2021, they had 5-homeless camps. That number jumped to 15 so far this year.(KCRG)
Published: Sep. 9, 2022 at 9:48 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Danny Gorectke lives in some brush just off Highway 151 in Dubuque. Living outside is something he’s enjoyed for the last 7-years.

“I prefer this type of lifestyle,” he said.

That’s all going to change come Monday at 1 PM after he received notice from the city of its new camping ordinance. In a letter he received Thursday from Police, it said he had 96 hours to move his belongings because the piece of city property he lived on was not allowed.

“We’re trying to get them into a safe place to live,” said Cori Burbach, the Dubuque Assistant City Manager. “Those areas are not only dangerous for the community, but it’s also dangerous for them as well. We’ve seen people sleeping in parking ramps and streets downtown.”

Burbach said it was a trend they’ve seen an increase over the last year. She says in 2021, they had 5-homeless camps. That number jumped to 15 so far this year.

“There’s not enough affordable housing for everybody in our community to meet the needs,” she said. “Dubuque is also competing against other communities for limited amounts of federal and state funding for affordable housing.”

Burbach said the ordinance was a way the city could help those who don’t have a home.

“We aren’t trying to criminalize homelessness,” she said.

That just wasn’t how Gorectke felt as he started getting ready to move all his belongings more than five miles to Miller Riverview Park where the paper he received said camping was allowed.

“We’re people too, you know,” he said. “We’re citizens and have rights too.”