SALEM, MASS. (WHDH) - It was standing room only in Salem City Hall on Wednesday as the city took up a new anti-camping ordinance aimed at addressing a homeless encampment in the city as an increase in the homeless population has shelters at capacity.

The proposal to remove the encampment of about 15 people along South River when there are shelter spaces open comes after the camp on National Grid property was ordered to be evicted earlier this month.

City leaders say the proposed ordinance mirrors the one in place in Boston to handle similar encampments It would require those without homes to be moved by police to a shelter if there’s open space. Salem Police Chief Lucas Miller called the ordinance “necessary” and “humane.”

“People who live in homeless encampments will never be healthier than they are today and their health will decline with every day that they stay in that encampment,”

But more than a dozen residents who spoke, mostly opposed, said the ordinance won’t address the root problem and will only move people who are without a place to stay.

In the end, the ordinance didn’t pass, meaning the debate over what to do with Salem’s growing homeless problem will continue.

National Grid did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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