Several pueblo agencies conducted cleanup and outreach efforts in areas along Fountain Creek last week to help improve environmental health and safety by clearing up trash and other items that have accumulated along the creek banks. Addressed concerns about He was one of the biggest cleanups in years.
According to Captain Dustin Taylor, a spokesperson for the Pueblo Police Department, agencies involved in the project discovered garbage accumulations and encampments between the Highway 47 and Highway 30 bypasses. There was a presence of both on the west side of the shore.
The area had encampments for people experiencing homelessness and belongings of people using the space as an illegal dumping site.
“We expected to come across garbage, human waste, needles, etc.,” Taylor said. “That’s exactly what we encountered during this cleanup.”
The Pueblo Police Department joined efforts by the city’s code enforcement unit, fire department, and other city departments to “maintain the safety, well-being, and cleanliness of the Pueblo community and protect the environment of Fountain Creek,” it said. Karen Wilson said. , manager of the city’s law enforcement department.
Taylor said authorities have conducted cleanups of the area in the past and expects similar efforts to continue in the future.
“It will probably happen again,” Taylor said. “We need to stay in touch and make sure we are aware of the situation.”
The city and some of its partner agencies also planned to place rocks in the area to discourage people from driving into space and dumping their garbage. It won’t prevent them from entering the area, but it’s a precaution against vehicles.
Taylor added he was unaware of any discussions about city-led programs or efforts to prevent a similar amount of trash from accumulating in the area, but said it would “continue to be monitored.”
Agencies helping clean up were also joined by organizations that provide outreach to people experiencing homelessness. Pueblo Triple Aim, Health Solutions, and Posada of Pueblo provided onsite resources and assistance.
Posada executive director Kim Bowman said the organization visited about 15 camps in the area during the week and tried to give instructions to those displaced. Although they have expressed interest, they face a huge waiting list for housing opportunities, she said.
Bowman said Posada’s own waiting list is multi-year, and she estimates that the Pueblo Housing Authority’s waiting list is up to three years.
Reducing the waiting list window is a difficult task, she said, because there is a shortage of affordable housing in the area.
“Most of the time it’s been really disappointing because our community doesn’t have enough resources,” Bowman said. “We can provide agency numbers and contact names, but they don’t exist in our community when it comes to affordable housing.”
Bowman added that some people in the Fountain Creek area are not only experiencing homelessness, but are also struggling with drug addiction. She said there weren’t enough resources to help individuals battling to remedy these addictions, but she did support Region Six Drug and Alcohol, an inpatient facility in Las Animas that offers treatment programs. You mentioned abuse.
Bowman says there are other detox facilities in the area, but potential patients may have limited options if they don’t have their own medical insurance.
“We’ve dealt with clients in the past who were on all fours for help,” Bowman said. “We have identified resources that accept Medicaid, and they told us that spots could open up within two months, but for those really looking for help, it could take two or more. A month takes a lifetime.”
Bowman said Posada met at least two people qualified for housing services through the organization. Among them was a 63-year-old woman who was considered a strong candidate for permanent housing at the organization’s planned 16-unit senior housing facility at 2124 Lake Avenue. .
The woman reported to Posada that she had been living with her dog in a pop-up camper in the Fountain Creek area for nearly two years. She said she felt the area was safe until recently when she heard gunshots, but besides not having access to water or electricity, she wanted to be more settled.
Both housing candidates expressed concern over the growing perception of the area, Bowman said.
“I’m sure there are a lot of people out there who are engaged in criminal activity, but they both say it’s really a shame that some of those bad apples ruin it for everyone. “They are labeled as criminals and despised by society.”
Bowman said Posada has the ability to sponsor low-barrier housing projects, which she believes are one answer to the Pueblo’s homeless crisis. She also believes the strategies outlined by Pueblo Her Triple Aim earlier this month can address homelessness and housing shortages.
“I believe that if we all come together and implement all of these recommendations, we can make a small impact on the housing crisis in our community,” Bowman said.
The cleanup comes just weeks after the Fountain Creek Basin Flood Control and Greenway District completed its 9th annual “Creek Week,” in which 175 volunteers helped collect debris along the basin. was broken.
Chieftain Reporter Josue Perez can be reached at JHPerez@gannett.com.. Follow him on Twitter @josuepwrites.