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Columbia homeless camp cleanup ends after one day


The City of Columbia cleaned up a homeless camp alongside Highway 63 on Monday.

The driving lane of Highway 63 just north of the connector was shut down from the morning until roughly 4 p.m. to allow crews to safely work.

Garbage trucks as well as front loaders could be seen cleaning out the wooded area along Highway 63, with Columbia Police Department cars parked farther away from the scene acting as traffic control.

Everything from shopping carts to tents and bicycles was being pulled out of the wooded area.

"We've had pretty good cooperation from the individuals who were still at the location this morning," city spokesperson Sydney Olsen said. "Equipment arrived in the area right around 8 a.m. and they got started."

Olsen said that the cleanup started off well and people still inside the camp were cooperative when crews started their work.

She also said that the city is having "what's next" conversations revolving around the people not only who lived in the camp, but others experiencing homelessness in the city.

"We're continuing those conversations on what that looks like here from the city's perspective," Olsen said. "We're talking about things like tiny houses for example that could serve as temporary shelter for individuals before they get into a more permanent solution."

Olsen said the police department had been in daily contact with those living in the camp, and offered them resources.

According to Olsen, some took the city up on the offers while some did not.

The cleanup happened after the Department of Natural Resources warned the city about pollution flowing into nearby Hinkson Creek, which is next to the Interstate 70/Highway 63 connector.

That citation came in December 2022.

"They had cited there was trash being leaked into the creek that runs through that area," Olsen said. "They went out and investigated and found that to be true and sent us pictures of the trash."

City officials and a private property owner have also worked in recent weeks to clean up a camp on the city's west side near the Columbia Mall.

Article Topic Follows: Columbia

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Matthew Sanders

Matthew Sanders is the digital content director at ABC 17 News.


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