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Crews Clear Homeless Camps
Des Moines, IA (KCCI-TV) - Crews are clearing out homeless camps in Des Moines along the Des Moines and Raccoon rivers Monday.
Notices to the residents were posted several weeks ago warning of the action. Monday morning, crews brought in garbage trucks and construction equipment to remove any property left in the camps.
Crews found most of the sites Monday morning were already abandoned.
KCCI's Mark Tauscheck reported that between 40-80 people still live in the area in about a dozen camps.
One man that was removed Monday morning told Tauscheck that he is moving to a new site down the river where he hopes to live for another year.
It's a long process to remove these campsites, but the city says it's necessary to ensure safety of both the homeless who live here and others who use nearby trails.
Earlier this year a homeless man died on the city's property when a large tree limb fell on his tent.
This weekend, Don Welch and Brenda Prothero abandoned their campsite under the blue Martin Luther King Jr. Bridge where they stayed off and on the past two years. Welch said they always took care not to bother anybody, but knows people complained.
"I moved most of my stuff, but what they have left there they're going to take to the dump," said Welch. "If we can see you from the jogging trail, you gotta go."
Freddie also moved his stuff farther downstream before the crews arrived.
"Yeah, moved down that way out of the city limits that's all it is," said Freddie.
Volunteers with the homeless outreach program JOPPA were out the past two days making sure everyone along the river knew what was coming. Their CEO estimates some 60 people are affected by the evictions, and the group helped 20 of them move this past weekend.
"Des Moines has to step up and do something for the homeless. There's too many homeless people for this small a town and they have to make a place for them to go -- can't just say you have to leave," said Welch.
The city also plans on hiring a homeless coordinator who is likely to be hired within 60 to 90 days from now. That person will help manage a new joint agency database to help track services offered to homeless individuals to better provide them support.