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Englewood police begin cleanup of South Platte River homeless camps

South Platte River homeless camping
Posted at 11:14 AM, Jun 04, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-04 19:52:56-04

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — After homeless camps continued to grow along the South Platte River over the past few months, unsafe and unsanitary conditions became more and more apparent. Police took action in May after a stabbing incident, and warned the people living in the camps that they had until June 4 to move to another location. As promised, on Tuesday morning, officers started to take action.

But many locals are wondering where the dozens of people who camped along the river will go next.

“It’s a lot of people and it's a lot of stuff,” said Shana Long, who came to help a friend move her belongings.

Shana said she used to camp along the river, but has since found more stable housing with a friend.

“I never liked being out here, and I got away from it, then I had to come back, and now I'm away from it again, so hopefully I don't ever end up here again,” she said.

She said she wished the campers respected the environment along the river more.

“Anytime you go camping, you leave the spot better than you found it,” Long said. “That’s just how I was raised, being a Colorado native.”

Teams with the Englewood and Denver Police Departments fanned out along the river to work on connecting homeless campers to services and resources. Several homeless advocacy groups, including the Englewood group Change the Trend, offered to transport people to shelters and get them food and medical care.

“I just hope these people take the help that's offered to them,” said Nicholas Olson, who came out to the river with his dad.

He said they came out Tuesday morning just to help those in need.

“We've got an abundance of people who want to help, we have an abundance of money and whatever it takes, but we really just need people to come here and communicate,” he said.

Business owners in the area were among those who complained to the city about conditions. But they said they understand this isn’t an easy problem to solve.

“I think if these people wanted a job, they could have a job," said Vince Rosensteel, who owns a custom car shop in the area. "Not all of them, but a lot of them could be working and making a better life for themselves,”

Englewood police said they expect the full cleanup and environmental mitigation work could take several weeks.