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Crews Clean-Up Homeless Camp

The homeless in Columbia are being pushed out of their camp after the city’s Park and Recreation Department cleaned up the camp that was set up by Highway 63, across from Home Depot.The department’s assistant director tells ABC 17 News they’ve cleaned up a homeless camp once before. Last summer it was the area near Old 63 and the Hinkson Creek. Each clean-up, he says, stemmed from resident complaints. Still, Mike Griggs says the goal of the homeless camp clean-up has never been to uproot those already down on their luck.”Our goal was also to try to find them a place to go,” Griggs said.Each time, Griggs says campers had at least three weeks notice that clean-up crews would be coming. Along with them were staff members from local homeless shelters and the Department of Social Services.”We even offered to give them a ride somewhere if they needed to,” Griggs said. “So we try to work them as much as possible.”He says seven out of the nine campers were placed in local shelters, while other two, had bus tickets and were heading out of town.”The ones that don’t want to go to a shelter, that’s generally their choice because we generally find them a spot working with our social services agencies. We can get them somewhere if they want to go.”But one homeless man tells ABC 17’s Janai Norman that isn’t always the case. He says he lives in another local homeless camp, one clean up crews haven’t visited just yet.Norman asked, “If they were to come and clean that up, what would you do?”The homeless man replied saying he didn’t know. Norman told him about the people Griggs was able to place in shelters, asking whether that’s something he would consider.The man says he would, but he’s tried homeless shelters in the past and they didn’t work out because of “too many people,” and being over-crowded.It’s in the cold, winter months shelters are often the most crowded. Griggs says that cold weather is why most of the homeless were accepting of the help offered.”They said if you’re going to help me get in a shelter, i’m going to take advantage of it because it’s cold.”

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