City, Property Owner Dispute Over Cleaning Up Homeless Camp

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- The City of Springfield continues its fight against homelessness almost a year after a major homeless camp was cleared out. 

The camp was located on a property behind Walmart on the corner of Glenstone and Kearney. It was cleared out in June of 2017. The city says more than 100 people lived there. 

The goal now is to avoid re-encampment, but the issue is the city and the property owner can't agree on who's responsible for cleaning it up. 

The homeless activity in that area, according to employees of surrounding businesses, has decreased since the camp was cleared out. But there are still people coming around. 

Krisha Green is used to seeing some of them behind Vapor World, where she is the manager. 

"There will be one guy that sits here in the shade in the afternoon," she said pointing to a tree behind her building. "A lot of times, if you look down through there,' she said pointing down further towards the woods. "You can actually see the tents. And at night, you can see a fire on occasion." 

Director of public information with the City of Springfield, Cora Scott, says when the property was evacuated,  about 90 people were connected with services and about half of those have been housed or are in the process of finding housing. 

"We are very happy with that number," she said. "but we would like for the rest of the people who are still homeless to come in and get connected with services." 

Capt. Chad Eutsler with the Springfield Police Department says officers check the area regularly and occasionally find individuals or small groups.  

"Depending on the circumstances they can be warned, and they can be cited and as a last resort, at times, they could be subject to arrest, but that's something we don't typically do," Capt. Eutsler said. 

He says police still receives calls from businesses reporting homeless activity. 

"Every time that we contact people in these circumstances, officers continually refer them to agencies that could help them out," Capt. Eutsler said. 

Now one big issue is figuring out who is going to clean up the trash that has been left behind. 

"The area is still a possibility for re-encampment because it has not been cleaned up," Scott said.  "The city is in a legal dispute with the property owner. We are talking about a variety of things that are on that property that make it unsafe. Beyond that, I really can't go into any more details." 

Scott said the pending litigation prevented her from sharing any more details with KOLR10. 

Meanwhile, businesses in the area say they haven't had any major issues, other than the occasional blankets, and empty bottles and packs of cigarettes left at their storefronts. 

"We have never really had safety issues or anything like that from anybody," Green said. 

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