Jan 14, 2010 6:04 PM by John Romero

"Tent City" getting worse by the day

It's a part of our community some would rather not talk about; the homeless camps along the creek beds. While it's never been a very clean community, the problem is getting worse as those camps grow. It's some of the most unsanitary conditions one could ever imagine. With the vote on the no-camping ordinance a month away everyone agrees something needs to be done

One look tells the whole story, burnt food, clothes and feces and toilet paper just a few feet away from the creek. "It's piling up. It's all over the place." says Officer Brett Iverson with CSPD's Homeless Outreach Team. "Some of the camps are not so good about cleaning up their area. They don't care about their area. They're here for a little while and they leave. They end result is when they leave, they don't clean up."

Vice Mayor Larry Small wants to help, but has said he will vote in favor of the no-camping ordinance if things aren't cleaned up. "I want the campers to take some responsibility for keeping their area clean." He explains, "They've tried to do it, but they've tried to do it through burning their refuse on site. That's not the solution."

Police say part of the problem lies in the community's generosity. Sometimes there's simply too much given in donations. "We've got such an overwhelming response from the citizens who want to do good, that it just overwhelmed the campers and this is what it has come to." says Iverson.
Maggie Spence lives on the other side of the highway in a tent. She is disgusted by what she sees. She blames it on the younger transient population. "These are not people like me who are looking for jobs or trying to go back to school. Or even vet guys who are dealing with the VA." she says, "This is not about that. These are children that just have no appreciation or gratitude." And if things don't change, she's well aware of the consequences. "The repercussions will be something I'll have to deal with as a 56 year old woman on the trail, and I am not happy about it." she says.

Police say they understand that people do want to help but they say the best thing to do is to go to a care provider like the Marion House who can distribute the donations a little at a time. If you want to find a provider in your area it's as simple as using your cell phone. Just dial "211" and you can get a list.


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