Colbert has indicated he won’t remove the trailers from church property but will seek the proper permits for them.
Unhoused People Are ‘Assets,’ Not ‘Liabilities’
City officials say complaints from the public about trash and debris led to inspections of the church property. From January to early June, records show, emergency personnel received 163 calls for assistance at the encampment, which is located just one block from the police department. Fourteen of the calls were regarding overdoses.
Assistant City Manager Quentin McPhatter told reporters that city permits are required for any building additions on a lot. All structures must be properly inspected and deemed safe, he said. “We wouldn’t want any harm to come of the citizens.”
Pastor Colbert said local leaders view unhoused people “as obstacles,” while he views them “as opportunities.” He added, “They see them as liabilities; I see them as assets.” The $60,000 that he is being fined could go a long way toward meeting people’s needs, he added.
In the past, Colbert has taken a defiant tone about his outreach efforts. In early 2022, he told a reporter, “I’d much rather ask for [the city’s] forgiveness than ask for their permission, ’cause I’m not getting their permission.”