Colorado

Jun 19, 2014 6:12 PM by Kelsey Kennedy

Homeless Camps Popping up along City Trails

News 5 has heard from many of our viewers that a problem in the city is keeping them from enjoying trails and outdoor space.

Homeless camps are popping up, as they always do this time of year. There's no question homeless people come to Colorado Springs from all over the world. We spoke with a woman all the way from Africa, and a man from West Virginia.

"There's a lot of opportunities here if you're homeless," says William Asbury. "You just have to take advantage of them, that's all."

He says word spreads by mouth, and the amount of camps we see, is just the tip of the iceberg.

"They're up on the railroad tracks, and up on the hill," he says. "That's just a fraction of the campsites here in the Springs."

The Colorado Springs Homeless Outreach Team consists of four officers who often bike the trails. They are doing their best to patrol over 200 square miles of the city.

"We are seeing a lot of people that are new to town," says Officer Tim Kippel. "Whether they're just passing through, or decided this is a great place to come."

One of the biggest camps they've seen this year, along Midland Trail and I-25, was on private property, and was removed by a private contractor.  Camping is also in violation of a city ordinance.

Officer Kippel says the lack of phoned in complaints about the homeless makes it difficult for them to keep track of what's going on where.

"So when it comes to the department putting an emphasis on a specific area, that's hard to do when there's no record of anything going on, other than word of mouth," Kippel says.

As for panhandling or harassing trail users, Asbury says that's only a very small percentage of the homeless population.

"Nobody really bothers those people," he says. "We're not like that. People think we are but we're not."

 

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