Posted: Jan 19, 2010 9:46 PM by John Romero
It's an emerging problem in the already muddy waters of the no-camping ordinance debate. There's been a recent rash of violence among the homeless population. "The problem is becoming more and more obvious to the community." says Bob Holmes, a homeless advocate with Homeward Pikes Peak. "We do hear that there's violence." explains Colorado Springs City Council member Sean Paige, "A lot of people abuse substances, so there have been incidents. I've heard anecdotally that people have been obstructed when they use the trail, and when I hear that I get very concerned."
Police tell us they hear about new assaults everyday along the creek beds. "Just last night there were 2 instances. I found out about a third one this morning where one of our female homeless ended up in the hospital with a big gash over her eye." says Officer Brett Iverson with CSPD's Homeless Outreach Team. He tells us some of the assaults are reported but far too many are never formally reported to police, causing many homeless to take up arms. "We hear the homeless are actually arming themselves because they're in fear of getting beat up or being the next person."
The sad reality is many of these people have mental health issues. Combine that with a weapon and it poses a very serious threat. "They get to a point where they don't trust anybody anymore. Everyone becomes an enemy." explains Iverson, "So I think we do need to do something about the camping to help take care of that not only for them, but for the general public."
Several public meetings are being held before the final vote on the no camping ordinance. The next public meeting will be Wednesday, January 20th at 5pm. It will take place at the Marian House soup kitchen. Various community organizations and city leaders will be there to hear your concerns.