Woman concerned about human waste and fires caused by nearby homeless encampment

Rosie Nguyen Image
Wednesday, May 31, 2023
Woman worries about human waste, fires caused by nearby homeless site
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A homeowner in Houston's Edgebrook neighborhood is concerned as a homeless encampment grows larger a few feet from her backyard.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A homeless encampment that has been sitting behind a woman's house for months in Houston's Edgebrook neighborhood has her concerned for her family's health and safety.

The woman, who asked to have her identity concealed out of fear of retaliation, told ABC13 her family has been living in their house near Edgebrook Drive and the Gulf Freeway for more than 40 years.

Back in February, she said someone broke into their shed and stole some of her husband's tools. That's when she went into their backyard and noticed a homeless encampment forming behind their house.

In April, she claims the camp started to get bigger and her neighbor noticed people were dumping buckets of human waste into the bayou.

"It's horrible. Just horrible. I come home and it's just so discerning for me to see all of that. It's just growing with all that trash. I've raised my family here and I would hate to be forced out of our home. We have a great investment here and I don't want to be uprooted. But we don't want to live like this," she said.

Then earlier this month, she said she had to call the fire department twice due to fires that started behind her house.

"We have a big electrical pole up there. Had that caught on fire, we would have had outages. No telling what would have happened," she said.

ABC13 reached out to the City of Houston Tuesday on her behalf, who said they are aware of the situation. In fact, they've already moved seven people and one dog out of that encampment and into temporary housing.

They plan to fully decommission the camp later this week and three others in the Edgebrook area. It's all part of an initiative that began two years ago between Mayor Sylvester Turner and multiple organizations aimed at reducing homelessness in Houston.

SEE ALSO: City officials clear largest homeless encampment under US-59, forcing residents into shelters

"The remaining individuals residing at the encampment will be moved into housing later this week," Marc Eichenbaum, a special assistant to the Mayor for Homeless Initiatives, said. "Not only is this encampment being decommissioned. But it is being done the right way, utilizing data-proven, holistic solutions to help individuals experiencing homelessness and prevent merely displacing inhabitants onto nearby blocks or further into our neighborhoods."

The neighbor said she looks forward to a resolution that will not only benefit her, but also the people living in the encampment.

"A lot of them I think are capable of living productive lives. Some of the people that I've seen back there, I think they are capable," she said.

Eichenbaum claims that it's not a matter of if they will get to all of the encampments through the city, it's when. He said they usually prioritize encampments with the largest amount of people first and then make their way down the list.

So far, city officials said they've been able to decommission more than 90 encampments consisting of more than 500 people through partnerships with Harris County and The Way Home, the city's regional homeless response system. The task was made possible by moving 90 percent of them into housing.

The city claims it has reduced street homelessness in the Greater Houston area by 17% last year.

"Decommissioning encampments effectively is time intensive, requiring housing units and a very methodical strategy, requiring up to 15 organizations to work together," Eichenbaum said.

If you have concerns about an encampment forming near your area, you're advised to call 311.

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