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Homeless camp near Old Colorado City dismantled in Sheriff Office's latest effort to clean up county

By: Chhun Sun
April 4, 2018 Updated: April 5, 2018 at 8:48 am
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Trash lays around as the cleanup of the Midland Trail started on Wednesday April 4, 2018 in Colorado Springs. (Dougal Brownlie, The Gazette).

About 20 people living along Fountain Creek between Old Colorado City and Manitou Springs were evicted Wednesday, the latest in the El Paso County Sheriff Office's efforts to dismantle homeless camps.

No tickets were issued as campers complied and left the area, said Lt. Bill Huffor. However, at least three people were seen waiting nearby with shopping carts full of clothes and household items as workers cleaned up the area Wednesday morning.

Sheriff Bill Elder acknowledged that campers are known to pitch tents a few hundred yards away after being told to leave a site.

"All we've been doing is basically kicking them back and forth between the city and county," he said. "We've gotta do better with that. We're trying to treat these people with dignity and respect and give them time to move on. The community's gotta step up. The community's gotta understand that we're not going to arrest our way out of the homeless situation."

The cleanup came after several complaints by residents and property owners in the area. Huffor said notices of the cleanup were posted Saturday and again Monday.

Huffor said he was told there were several sheltered beds available, including 20 at the Springs Rescue Mission on Wednesday. The Salvation Army's Weber Street emergency warming shelter - which can hold 150 people - housed 80 men and 15 women Tuesday night.

"When there's a camp cleanup, wherever it is, generally our warming shelter fills up close to capacity," said Capt. David Kauffman, who leads the Salvation Army's El Paso County chapter.

Wednesday's cleanup was conducted along a mile of Fountain Creek.

Several campers declined to be interviewed, though one said he was waiting for the workers to leave before he moved back into the area.

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