East End residents want homeless out

July 13, 2011 5:05:22 PM PDT
There's a possible expansion of a city ordinance to tackle the homeless problem. Some neighborhoods near downtown want the vagrants out. They're asking City Council for changes to keep people who don't live in their neighborhoods out.

Some are making a push for an amended civility ordinance, but people are split on it.

On the East End of downtown, homeless men and women dot the sidewalks. Karen Day admits she knows she's not welcome.

"Well, it makes you feel trashy," Day said.

As this area, known as EaDo, develops into a more residential neighborhood, there is the inevitable question -- how to coexist with a homeless population that often makes new residents uncomfortable?

"It's a lose-lose situation. Really there is no right answer. They're in a situation where can afford to live somewhere, but no place wants them. Still they need somewhere to be," said resident Omar Mejia.

Concerned homeowners went to City Hall Wednesday, hoping council members would agree to extend the city's "civility ordinance" to EaDo.

"Trash is a major issue, discarded food items; when I walk my dog, I have to take chicken bones out of their mouths," said resident Phillip Bayko.

If passed, the ordinance would make it unlawful to sit or sleep on sidewalks from 7am to 11pm. But not every council member likes the idea.

"Some of us are one paycheck away from homeless ourselves, so we have to be compassionate ourselves," said Council Member Wanda Adams.

Several Houston neighborhoods including downtown already have such ordinances in place. Residents and police admit a civility ordinance won't solve the homeless problem because if it's not this neighborhood, it will be somewhere else.

"Unfortunately these people don't have anywhere to go," said Mejia.

Residents in East End do have the support of their council member, James Rodriguez.

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