Westside community presses city to address homelessness in Colo. - KOAA.com | Continuous News | Colorado Springs and Pueblo

Westside community presses city to address homelessness in Colo. Springs

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It was a heated meeting Thursday night, as neighbors in Old Colorado City pushed city and county officials on what they plan to do about homeless camps in their community.

We expected the meeting to focus on fires at homeless camps, that have gotten out of control.

But neither the Colorado Springs Police Department nor the fire department were on had to answer questions--so the conversation quickly turned to an even bigger issue.

Some neighbors, who live in the Westside/Old Colorado City area, were very vocal about concerns for their own safety--detailing graffiti, trespassing, and theft tied to the nearby homeless population.

The El Paso County Sheriff's Office was at the meeting, along with some of the city and county's elected officials.

About halfway through the meeting, City Council president Richard Skorman asked the audience how many of them would be in favor of a slight tax increase to help fix the problem.

About 2/3 of the hands went up into air.

But neighbors say they still had a lot of questions go unanswered Thursday night.

They're pressing the city to give them some guidance and be proactive in providing more resources for homeless individuals.

"I do understand there's a problem with homeless people sleeping in front of the businesses," said James Stokes, who tells News5 he's been homeless--on and off--for the last 20 years.

"You've got to give them a place to go, though.  It's like herding cattle from one pasture to the other because the grass ran out in this pasture so we're going to run them to another pasture," he added.

During the meeting, Skorman said he was looking at the possibility of setting up public bathrooms and dumpsters, that the homeless population would be able to access--as well as safe drop-off sites for needles.

Nothing is official at this point, though.

More meetings are supposed to be scheduled to continue addressing this topic.

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