Houston, Texas (KTRK) – A homeless camp that has been sitting behind a woman’s home for months in the Edgebrook neighborhood of Houston is worrying her for her family’s health and safety.
The woman, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of reprisal, told ABC13 that her family has lived in their home near Edgebrook Drive and the Gulf Freeway for more than 40 years.
This past February, she said, someone broke into their hut and stole some of her husband’s tools. That’s when I went into their backyard and noticed a homeless camp forming behind their house.
In April, she claimed the camp was getting bigger and that her neighbor had noticed people were dumping buckets of human waste into the bay.
“It’s awful. It’s awful. I’m back home and it’s so much fun for me to see all of it. He’s growing up with all this rubbish. I raised my family here and I would hate to be forced out of our house. We have a major investment here and I don’t want to rip out of it.” roots. But we don’t want to live like this.”
Then earlier this month, she said she had to call the fire department twice because of the fires behind her home.
“We have a big electric pole there. If it had caught fire, we would have had a blackout. We’re not saying what would have happened,” she said.
ABC13 reached out to the City of Houston on Tuesday on its behalf, who said they are aware of the situation. In fact, they have already moved seven people and one dog from that camp into temporary housing.
They plan to decommission the entire campground later this week and three more in the Edgebrook area. It’s all part of an initiative launched two years ago between Mayor Sylvester Turner and several organizations aimed at reducing homelessness in Houston.
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“The remaining individuals staying in the camp will be moved into residences later this week,” said Mark Eichenbaum, Special Assistant to the Mayor of Homeless Initiatives. “This camp is not just decommissioned. It’s being done the right way, using comprehensive, data-proven solutions to help individuals experiencing homelessness and prevent mere displacement of residents to neighboring blocks or into our neighborhoods.”
The neighbor said she was looking forward to a solution that would not only benefit her, but also the people living in the camp.
“I think a lot of them are capable of leading productive lives. I think some of the people I’ve seen there again, I think they’re capable,” she said.
Eichenbaum claims it’s not if they get to all the campsites across town, it’s when. He said they usually prioritize camping with the most people first and then work their way down the list.
So far, city officials said they’ve been able to decommission more than 90 campers of more than 500 people through partnerships with Harris County and The Way Home, the city’s regional homeless response system. The mission is made possible by moving 90 percent of them into housing.
The city claims to have reduced street homelessness in the greater Houston area by 17% last year.
“Effectively decommissioning camps takes a long time, requires very systematic housing units and strategy, and requires up to 15 organizations to work together,” Eichenbaum said.
If you have concerns about setting up camp near your area, you are advised to call 311.
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