Dec 2, 2010 12:22 AM by John Romero
Ten months after a city wide camping ban went into effect. Colorado Springs has made great strides in helping out the homeless. Hundreds have moved from the tents into housing programs such as one at the Aztec Motel. But not all are in programs. "We have a few little pockets where people are camping." explains Officer Brett Iverson with CSPD's Homeless Outreach Team, "Not too many, but for the most part they're just coming and going."
It's those that still remain homeless that need the most help. But it's not that easy. Most left have alcohol and substance abuse habits as well as mental health problems. "The ones that are out there are really hardcore ones that just really don't want that help yet." says Iverson. Much of it comes from a sense of belonging with others like them. "They actually felt guilty for leaving the other ones at the camp." explains H.O.T Team member Officer M.J. Thompson, "It's a pretty tight culture."
Both Officers Iverson and Thompson are concerned about the spirit of Christmas giving to those left out on the streets. Last year, so many donations were made directly to the homeless that it created a huge problem with trash. Since then CSPD has set up a website to help get the donations to where they're needed most. But the bigger concern is the cold. This is the first winter since the camping ban, and Police don't want to see the same tragedies as last year when several homeless died due to exposure. "We have not written a single summons yet for a violation of our ordinance and we're very proud of that." says Thompson, "However if it takes us writing a summons to save a life, we're not opposed to that. We just cannot live with another person freezing to death."
CLICK HERE for CSPD's website on how you can help donate to the homeless