OGDEN, Utah — The city of Ogden is taking action to clean up a homeless camp near the Lantern House shelter.
In a news release, Ogden Police Lt. Brian Eynon said the police and fire departments would work with officials from the Weber/Morgan Health Department, Weber Human Services, Weber County Homeless Coordinating Council, Weber Housing Authority and other groups to address the situation.
According to Eynon, Ogden has seen an uptick in complaints about the homeless camp, which is located on W. 33rd Street. Those complaints include reports of:
- Aggravated assault, assault, and theft within the camp.
- Harassment of members of the public by camp members and deliberate damage to at least one vehicle driving down the street.
- Campfires in the public way, creating significant risk to persons in the camp as well as neighboring businesses, and requiring response by the Ogden Fire Department.
- Trespassing, vandalism, and thefts affecting neighboring businesses.
“Up to this point, Ogden City has taken a moderated approach during the pandemic,” Eynon wrote. “However, the situation has now become untenable.”
Ogden homeless camp becomes health, safety concern
According to the release, health officials reported concerns about human waste in the camp. They requested the city take immediate action over concerns about health and safety. That includes the risk of spreading COVID-19 within the homeless camp.
“The presence of Police and other city personnel is a constant requirement in the area, and City resources are being expended at a rapid rate to deal with this illegal encampment and the related unlawful behaviors,” according to Eynon.
Ogden City ordinances forbid the pitching of tents or placement of sleeping materials within the city right-of-way. And despite the presence of a shelter next door, service providers say some who experience homelessness decline help.
“The Lantern House, located immediately adjacent to the camp and other homeless facilities, has space to house members of the camp. Ogden City monitors the availability of shelter space daily,” Eynon stated.
Additionally, Eynon wrote, some well-meaning members of the community routinely offer assistance or drop off donated items; that exacerbates the homeless camp problem for Ogden authorities. According to the release, the donations result in increased assaults and thefts. Sometimes, they end up sold for cash or discarded in other areas, which the city must then clean up.
Ogden leaders recommend those who want to help donate directly to service providers or shelters to avoid bargaining or other problems at the homeless camp. Donations for the homeless are accepted locally by the Lantern House, Salvation Army, Youth Futures, Your Community Connection, and others.
“Ogden City understands that homelessness is occurring locally and in other parts of the state, but this specific situation may not continue. It is in the best interest of the City, local businesses, and the general health of all, including the people in the camp, that it be removed,” the news release stated.
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