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Colorado Springs homeless camps cleaned up to reduce fire danger

The city aims to clear areas that firefighter can't easily access and remove trash, which can act as fuel
Posted at 5:22 PM, Apr 03, 2023
and last updated 2023-04-03 21:42:45-04

COLORADO SPRINGS— City leaders clean up homeless encampments every day. On days with high fire danger, police want to clear areas that firefighters can't easily get to.

Then after 24 hours, the city's Neighborhood Services goes in and removes trash, which can act as fuel if a fire does break out.

"By keeping the homeless population moving and cleaning up the debris, we are able to mitigate those signs of urban blight," said the neighborhood services manager Mitch Hammes.

Hammes said his team of 13 picked up almost 300,000 pounds of trash already this year. It costs the city $100,000 every year to dispose of so much trash.

There are 135 homeless camps in the city said Hammes. Police clear out about 12 every day.

The CSPD Homeless Outreach, supervisor Sgt. Olav Chaney, said many camps on are private property. People can get arrested if caught multiple times.

"That's our big win if we can get them off the street, doing it the right way, but if they're going to be out here, violating the law, then we have to enforce those laws," said Sgt. Chaney.

Joseph McDaniel was kicked out of one of those homeless camps. He said he has no where to go.

"Whenever they're through cleaning this up, we may be right back, I mean that's the way it works," said McDaniel.

He said they use a single burner stove to cook but never worry about starting a fire.

"We have fireless camps, we use wool blankets at night time, static electricity to keep our bodies warm, we don't start fires," said McDaniel.

McDaniel believes it's the high wind that brings in so much trash, not the homeless.

"If we knew that we weren't being pushed out and degraded, you know I mean, spit on and stepped on, we would clean this whole city up and nobody takes into account the wind," said McDaniel.

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