Downtown residents, businesses concerned about homeless camp

Downtown residents, businesses concerned about homeless camp (WKRC)

CINCINNATI (WKRC) - What started out as a single tent a few weeks ago is now a dozen, as a homeless camp grows along 3rd Street.

The tent city is right near The Banks, the Freedom Center, Great American Ball Park, and many apartments and offices. Nearby residents and business owners are demanding action from City Hall.

It is admittedly a tough issue, but the camp is apparently scaring off businesses and jobs.

According to a study for Downtown Cincinnati, Inc., two potential tenants for a nearby office tower said they were either not interested or did not return calls because of the homeless camp.

Other business which are thinking of expanding down there are now also looking at Northern Kentucky. That’s about 500-700 jobs.

Downtown's negative? The camp.

A tent may not seem like much, but to Vaughn Warren and his wife Amanda, it's an improvement. “We were laying on a cardboard box and a blanket,” said Vaughn Warren.

Warren says some good-hearted people gave them the tent about a week and a half ago and they have also provided food.

The couple had been renting an apartment, but things went bad. “We hate being in this situation, but what can we do?” said Warren.

Experts say they could go to a shelter, and there's room there, where social services are available to get people out of homelessness long term.

Sporadic donations of food on the street, or even a tent (however well-motivated or well-meaning) could backfire. “Anything that encourages people to stay on the streets or away from a shelter might actually keep them away from services they need the most, shelters that provide comprehensive services,” said Kevin Finn of Strategies to End Homelessness.

It's possible that down on their luck homeless people could all at once afford to go somewhere and buy $100 tents, but it's extremely unlikely. What's more likely as to who's behind this? There are clues.

Some of the homeless individuals said that church groups have been there, but critics say the homeless camps lead to litter, public urination, and substance abuse.

Not only that, but by allowing the camp to exist, at least one expert says it just encourages more people to put up more tents.

Acting City Manager Patrick Duhaney issued a memo to City Council on Monday (the same day Local 12’s Jeff Hirsh contacted the city about the camp) saying the hope is to come up with a humane and budget-wise solution within the next couple of weeks.

In the meantime, the DCI study says there have been 99 police calls at the camp so far this year.

If you'd like more about what you can do to help the homeless, instead of giving handouts on the street, look for the "strategies to end homelessness" link here.

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