Mar 10, 2010 10:07 PM by Matt Stafford

No camping ordinance going into effect; Officers putting out the warning

With the no camping ordinance in effect as of Wednesday, the Homeless Outreach Team, part of the Colorado Springs Police Department, has the job of clearing things out.

"It's not going to happen overnight, like we've been saying, but it is moving along a lot quicker now with the passing of this ordinance," says officer Brett Iverson, with the H.O.T.

In some places they haven't had to ask people to leave at all. They've found several empty tents along Fountain Creek already.

"We'll see if these are completely abandoned." Iverson says, as they will wait to see if the camps are reclaimed. Iverson says they'll also be posting plenty of signs in the area that read, "No Camping."

The camps that are already empty may be in anticipation of the no camping ordinance, or because of the work from community members, trying to get campers on their feet.

Homeward Pikes Peak has had a lot of help fighting homelessness lately, and it seems to be paying off.

"We've actually reached out to 188 people, which is way more than half of the people that were down there in the camps," Bob Holmes director of Homeward Pikes Peak.

Nearly 30 of those people are already in jobs.

"They're incredibly big gains in just a tiny bit over 3 weeks," Holmes explains.

Holmes says about 125 remain as campers, but they wont be able to stay long. They'll be warned, then after 48 hours if they aren't gone they'll get a ticket. After three days, police will arrest them if they haven't left.

"We do have an ordinance to enforce and we will enforce it," say officer M.J. Thomson, with the H.O.T. "but, it's going to be done very compassionately and on a case by case basis."

It's a job police say will take some patience.

Holmes says, moving forward, one of the most crucial elements to fighting homelessness in Colorado Springs is employment. Of the nearly 30 people Holmes and others have been able to put into jobs, none have been fired.

If you know of jobs that can be filled by former campers, call Bob Holmes at (719) 955-0731.


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