Mayor Turner orders cleanup of homeless encampment

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner has ordered a cleanup operation below the Interstate Highway 69 / U.S. Highway 59 overpass from Caroline Street to Almeda Road. The section, known as the Wheeler Homeless Encampment, will be cleaned beginning at 8 a.m. Friday.

Notices in English and Spanish were shared with people who are living under the Wheeler Avenue bridge.

The Houston Police Department Homeless Outreach Team, along with several city departments, will be on the encampment to provide information about housing, social services and mental health care to the people who are living there.

The City of Houston says it is taking the steps to clean up the encampment after the local health authority declared it a public health nuisance based on the human waste, mosquitoes, flies, garbage and other conditions that can make people sick.  

"No one is being punished because he or she is homeless, but we are facing a public health hazard," said Mayor Turner in a statement released on Thursday. "We want to get people off the streets and into housing. This is a shared public space. We want to protect the safety and health of  both the homeless and local residents."