COLORADO SPRINGS- An ongoing public health crisis near homeless camps. We were there as crews cleaned up dumpsters full of trash and waste along sand creek trail near Chelton and South Academy Tuesday morning. Dozens of complaints come into the offices of city leaders on a weekly basis about the trash and public health hazards created at homeless encampments throughout the city. Working with the police department’s homeless outreach team, city crews are doing their best to clean up.
City crews say this area near Sand Creek has become a major hot spot for homeless camps. This is the second time in just a few months city workers have come out and spent days clearing garbage, hazardous waste and even drug needles from this public trail.
“A lot of trash and sanitation. Bike parts, metal, they are scraping a lot of scrap metal parts. A lot of clothes, discarded clothes, shirts, pants,” said Gary Moore, who was leading the clean up effort. “If we weren’t doing this. It would be a mess. The city would be a lot of sanitation and trash.”
City crews say all of this garbage and waste was accumulated along the sand creek trail in just a matter of months. They did a similar clean up over the summer. In the span of just a few hours two large trailers were filled with garbage along the Sand Creek Trail. City leaders say there are ways to help the homeless like giving to a local charity, but some strategies are only make things worse.
“Our team is very sensitive to the conditions people are facing in those camps and so we follow the police department’s homeless outreach team,” said Neighborhood Services Manager Mitch Hammes. “What we don”t really need is people coming out on Thanksgiving handing out turkeys and pies to the homeless people on the street because a lot of that doesn’t get eaten and it gets discarded and we’re out there a couple of days afterward cleaning it up.”
City leaders ask that people leave this type of clean up to the professionals. The city’s clean up crews are equiped with medication if they are stuck by a drug needle and work closely with law enforcement to maintain their safety while on site.