"We know very well we cannot litigate our way or arrest our way out of the problem, but our police need some teeth to start dealing with the squatting," Knell told the outlet. "They’re just causing so many problems."
You can't "litigate or arrest" your way out of squatting and third-world human waste?
That's a lie.
Indeed you'll do exactly that (arrest!) someone who takes their camper, sits on a piece of land within your jurisdiction and runs the waste hose out onto open ground. Justly so too, I might add.
The difference between a modern society's health problems and those of the 1600s and 1700s, indeed all the way through the 1800s, were largely about sanitation.
We don't allow someone to use a chamber pot and toss it on the curb in the morning rather than pay their water and sewer bill, or have a permitted septic system and well, for this very reason. Diseases such as dysentery and cholera were all about sanitation, or rather the lack thereof.
"Squatting" is a term for adverse possession where there's no forcible entry. If you walk onto someone's vacant land, with no signage and no fence, then camp on it without despoiling where you are, you're "squatting."
What these people did wasn't "squatting" -- it was burglary, which is a criminal felony. In addition in virtually every case felony destruction or conversion of said property also is a separate and distinct subsequent offense. The "squatting" can't happen without first committing the felony; this is like saying that someone raping a corpse has merely committed abuse of a corpse while ignoring the murder they committed first to create the corpse.
"Burglary" is the act of entry with the intent to commit a crime inside, including but certainly not limited to the despoilation of the place or its contents. It is a crime to reside in someone else's home without permission or to commit waste or theft upon the contents. No physical damage is required either; lifting a closed window is sufficient, even if it isn't locked.
Many states have separated the crime of "breaking and entering", restricting it to those places that are not typically occupied. A commercial or residential structure that has as part of its essential purpose occupation renders the entry burglary and a felony. All of these offenses carry prison terms, often of five to ten years or more.
"There’s a certain part of the homeless population, whether substance abuse or mental illness, that is getting them to where they don’t want to conform to society’s rules," Knell told the outlet. "When they do that, they’re not allowed to go in the shelter, which means they’re just out and about in our community raising hell.
This has been true forever. In the 1990s there were homeless living on Lower Wacker Drive in Chicago, especially in winter months. It was a bid to avoid freezing to death; the street has three levels in many areas and the bottom one has air vents that the various high-rises exhaust air through. Chicago sees negative temperatures in the winter on a fairly regular basis and with the wind its even worse, of course; being below grade and having some above-freezing air exhausted is a pretty dramatic difference, literally that between living and not.
The city also had homeless shelters but you can't bring booze, drugs or weapons in them, nor can you be wild-eyed crazy and abusive toward the other people in there. A large percentage of the homeless are homeless because they're wild-eyed crazy and either unwilling or incapable of spending the night or day in a place without a bottle, shooting up or being verbally (or physically) abusive to others in their presence. We decided back in the 1980s (thanks Reagan!) to close the various state nuthouses in the general case with no plan to deal with those who were certifiable or seriously drug and alcohol-addled other than leaving them alone.
Ok, fine, if that's the choice -- right up until they crap on the streets or break into property owned by someone else.
One is a serious public health hazard and the other a felony.
Can we provide for a place for homeless people to go take a dump? Probably. But if someone abuses the privilege of said place to do so and either degrades or destroys it then we have to treat that as a felony offense and arrest them, throwing them in prison because if we don't then we are inviting the return of literal medieval disease outbreaks!
We don't need new laws.
We need enforcement of existing laws, specifically those against burglary and it is simple enough for there to be a presumption that if someone is living in filth with no water, sewer and electrical service in a place that they got there by burglary which is a criminal felony because no landlord is going to knowingly permit that situation to exist.
Throwing anyone "squatting" in prison unless the owner of said property confirms the person there is in fact a valid tenant with the very-reasonable presumption that if the place is in disarray or utilities are not functional that said person broke in and you've got an answer -- don't you? The reasonable presumption is that they committed burglary and that's a criminal felony carrying years in prison so start treating that event as what it is.
STOP MAKING EXCUSES MAYOR!