HOUSTON (FOX 26) - The City of Houston says the deep cleaning of two homeless encampments have been scheduled for this week. The city says teams from the Solid Waste Department and environmental contractors will be removing trash, debris and fecal matter in areas deemed a "public health nuisance".
An area near the Highway 59 underpass from Caroline Street to Almeda Road is scheduled for cleaning on Wednesday. The Highway 59 underpass between Ruiz Street and Preston Street is scheduled for cleaning on Thursday.
The City of Houston released this statement:
A citywide group of employees and environmental contractors will be out in full force deep cleaning two homeless encampments this week, which have more than doubled since August, when a temporary restraining order was put in place to block the city’s anti-encampment ordinance. Members of the city representing health, general services, police, fire, and the Mayor’s Office will first visit the encampments and offer to store all personal possessions, before the cleanup takes place.
Teams from the Solid Waste Department and environmental contractors will be removing trash, debris and fecal matter in the areas deemed a public health nuisance near the Highway 59 underpass from Caroline Street to Almeda Road on Wednesday and Highway 59 underpass between Ruiz Street and Preston Street on Thursday.
All personal items are left alone; only trash is hauled away. Assistance is offered in case any of the homeless desire to seek shelter, but no one is forced to leave. These areas are of particular concern because they are home to the largest “tent cities” in Houston which have increased significantly, despite the city’s best efforts.
“It doesn’t make sense to allow our residents to live in squalor when we can provide a safer, cleaner area for our homeless population. We continue the fight to balance their rights, versus the rights of residents who live in the area to also have a safer, cleaner neighborhood,” said Mayor Sylvester Turner. “The work never ends. Homelessness is a complex issue, but we have seen a 57-percent reduction in overall homelessness in the last five years and have permanently housed 8,000 individuals and families since 2012.”
The City and numerous agencies have been focusing their efforts on the 59 underpass since October 2016 and had been making significant progress before the restraining order. The Harris Center, Homeless Coalition of Houston/Harris County, SEARCH Homeless Services, Star of Hope, Salvation Army, Midtown Management District, U.S. Department for Veterans Affairs, Houston Recovery Center, HPD Homeless Outreach Team, Houston Area Community Services, Healthcare for the Homeless, Baylor College of Medicine and the Texas Workforce Commission are assisting with the effort.