NewsCovering Colorado


Health officials, police visit homeless camps along Fountain Creek

Posted at 4:11 PM, Apr 19, 2019

PUEBLO – Education and help were the focus of different agencies on Friday as they visited homeless camps along Fountain Creek.

The main objective is to keep everyone safe and provide health resources like free vaccines, letting these folks know they have access to help if they need it.

“You can see it from the interstate, and it doesn’t look as bad until you actually get down in it and it is an eye-opener,” said Zak VanOoyen, a clinic manager at the Pueblo Department of Public Health and Environment.

Pueblo police partnered up with the Pueblo Department of Public Health and Environment and the Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office, among other agencies, to visit the homeless community along fountain creek.
Instead of expecting them to find help on their own, this team brought help to them.

“Hard to take in the conditions, unfortunately, that a lot of these people are living in,” VanOoyen said.
“And so knowing that we’re coming down here and doing some good for them, makes this all worth it.”

Health officials offered Hepatitis A vaccines to folks who wanted them.

“It’s an experience,” VanOoyen remarked.

“I’ve never seen anything like it before. you never know what you’re gonna be getting into, and so far everybody’s been very receptive, which is a pleasant surprise.”

Police say these ongoing outreach efforts reduce crime by connecting folks with the resources they need while letting them know there’s a team looking out for them.

“It’s boots on the ground, and we get to see kind of the conditions and the circumstances of what’s going on down there,” said Sergeant Franklyn Ortega with Pueblo Police Department.

“They’re a community, and whether individuals like it or not, they’re part of our community,” VanOoyen emphasized.
“And we do have to reach out to them to bring them up.”

The opportunity to survey the area also gives police and other law enforcement agencies the chance to locate different camps and the people living there, so if they need to respond to the area for any type of emergency, they can do so more effectively.