HOUSTON, TX - "The situation is unacceptable. It's getting worse, not getting better." Mayor Sylvester Turner is pushing for the court to get involved after an homeless man was shot and killed near an encampment on Caroline Street on Tuesday.
While Mayor Turner says everyone has the right to live as they choose within the law, the living conditions particularly at the Midtown homeless camp near Caroline Street is not only unsafe, but unsanitary.
"Huge amounts of urine and feces that are deposited by individuals living here," said David Persse with the Houston Health Department.
The encampments are currently located underneath US-59. Turner stressed the importance of "deep cleansings" on the Midtown encampment site on Thursday morning. "We'll do another deep cleansing at these sites. As much as we can, we'll be patrolling the areas."
"It don't take no rocket scientist to know all you got to do is come out here, pick these people up, take them to a housing project and put them in their housing projects. Do the paperwork later. We'll worry about your paperwork later," said one homeless resident who claims he's lived on the streets of Houston for 11 years.
Turner claims workers have been out at the camps almost daily, trying to help relocate.
In addition, Turner said that the city of Houston is not trying to criminalize homelessness, but instead to protect the public safety of the neighborhoods surrounding the encampments. The Mayor stated the conditions have grown much worse, since a federal restraining order was placed on the city ordinance.
"These encampments do not do anyone any good. Lawlessness is not allowed," Turner stated. "We have residents who want to come home, and their children should come out and play. They shouldn't be in fear of their lives," he added. Another strong concern from city leaders is that the Hepatitus A has spread in other homeless camps throughout the country, and they do not want that situation in Houston.