Homeless population upset over relocation

Residents of a homeless camp near the White River are being moved three miles away.

Dozens of homeless people say the city is going too far by trying to relocate them.

They say because the city is forcing them to move from their camp along the White River, it will be harder for them to get the services they need. The camp is located right off the city's newest trail, within feet of where people walk and bike.

"This is my house," said Chuck Bowling, one of the homeless men being moved. "I have a small, twin-size mattress for my bed. I got a couple milk crates over here with a small tote for clothes."

Bowling has called a tent on the streets home for nearly ten years. He had a full-time job until he was laid off.

"It's just been a struggle to get back from out here back into employment and into housing," Bowling said.

He says that struggle is about to get harder.

"The police come down and are trying to make us move, but they won't tell us who wants us to move. They say because this new trail is moving in, but that's all they say," Bowling said. "Most people going by now usually say, 'Hi, how are you doing?' They're friendly. They talk with us, we talk with them."

Bowling says where they're being asked to move their camp is nowhere even close. They say they are being pushed south of Raymond Street, which is more than three miles away. Bowling says that's an additional 45-minute walk away from their already 40-minute walk downtown.

"That means we won't have access to doing laundry, taking showers as often, finding food, getting help with jobs," he said.

Bowling says he and other homeless residents try to make the trip to places like Horizon House for those resources and job services once a week. A longer commute will stretch that out much longer.

"It seems the city is trying to hide them and push them out of the way and they're people too," said Jay Cornell with No Limits.

No Limits is a non-profit organization trying to provide resources that are desperately needed by the homeless population.

"If you equip the people with the resources, we can fix the problem," Cornell said.

Metro police tells Eyewitness News they're not aware of efforts to relocate the homeless and referred us to the city. The mayor's office said while they're not sure about this specific site, it's not unusual to move a homeless camp because of impact to public safety, public health, nearby residents or all of the above.

In that case, they say they give plenty of advance notice and offer support services to help in the transition.