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Colorado Springs community raising concerns over clearing of homeless encampments days before Christmas

Posted at 9:27 PM, Dec 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-23 16:34:07-05

COLORADO SPRINGS — Some people are raising concerns after homeless camps in Colorado Springs were cleared out days before Christmas.

"Christmas, holidays or not, that is just cruel and inhumane. I know it's a nuisance for these people to be at the park and since they don't have anywhere to use the bathroom that's a problem. It's along the bike trails too, but I think the city should give them a dumpster or a couple of outhouses," said Mary Gilcreest, Colorado Springs resident.

She's one of many in the community worried about the homeless so close to the holidays. With so many experiencing homelessness right now, she says the city needs to provide more resources during this time.

"They should give them something, some facilities. Something to give them the tiniest bit of dignity," said Gilcreest.

The Colorado Springs Police Department tells News 5 that the goal of the homeless camp cleanups are not only to clean trash along trails and riverbanks, but to offer much-needed services.

"Talk to them, offer them services, give them the opportunity to see counselors. Things like that if they'd like too," said Sergeant Scott Wisler.

He says they did remind those living in the camps that it's illegal in public places within city limits, and they had a few days to vacate the area.

"If they chose not to leave, there is a possibility they'll get a ticket, but that's not really our goal," said Wisler. " Our goal is to get them help, get them moved to temporary housing or a shelter."

Before the cleanup takes place, they make sure the people have another place to go.

"If there are no beds available for the people to go to, we won't do the camp checks at all because they have to have a place to go if we ask them to leave the camps they're illegally in," said Wisler.

He says the cleanups are critical to prevent any environmental hazards and diseases.

"If you get areas with a lot of trashes then it breeds diseases like hepatitis and other things that are dangerous," said Wisler.

He says they'll continue to routinely do the cleanups, and they want you to know if you see an area that is populated with homeless people, that you contact them, so they can offer them assistance.

It's encouraged the community refrains from giving them money or food. Instead, donate to local homeless shelters and non-profit organizations. More resources can be found by clicking here.