Police Report Issues with Odessa Homeless Population 2/6/14
CBS 7 News
February 6, 2014
ODESSA-Recent counts in Odessa indicate the homeless population is on the rise.
And as many makeshift tent communities pop up near downtown Odessa, the city says they are seeing reports of littering, grassfires and even lewd acts.
The city says it has a responsibility to protect the public when it comes to some complaints about homeless people living in tents, but the warnings by police have some homeless scared and moving out of their encampments.
They sleep in tents and even on the street.
On this cold winter day, Todd walks to the Jesus House from work. Despite having a job, Todd can't afford a place to live. He's shaken up after a visits by police to empty lots where he and others illegally camp.
"I wish they wouldn’t crack down on the homeless people,” Todd said. “There are other crimes going on out there, and I really don’t see where there’s a crime in camping. Places aren’t affordable at the moment for some people and some people do have to be on the streets.”
OPD says it has responded to reports of homeless people committing lewd acts, using vulgar language, littering and even setting off a grassfire.
Those who work with the homeless say warnings from the city are driving people from makeshift camps, but the city says it has stopped short of issuing citations
“Not all the homeless are that way. I think it sends a message that they don’t want them here,” said Pastor of Jesus House Donny Kyker. “If we’re going to be a friendly city, we need to be friendly to all aspects of life. The community is very supportive of helping the homeless.”
Like on many cold nights, despite complaints, the Jesus House prepares to bring supplies to the homeless. They offer a solution for those—like Todd, who call a tent home.
"Everybody owns everything around here. If we can find that area, if the cities would just open up and say, ‘Here’s what we could do,’” said Kyker. “Open up the church grounds and have port-a-potties, privacy fencing, something like that to make the neighbors happy.”
Now it is true that some homeless choose not to or can’t go into shelters because they are battling some form of an addiction.
Kyker says the Jesus House is working to build a shelter that will try and help some of these folks rather than turning them away.
You can contact Kyker to get involved at their church's website