Over the past several months, crime involving occupants of homeless camps in unincorporated El Paso County, specifically those in the area of Stratmoor Hills / B Street, have unfortunately led to a homicide and other violent crime, as well as a structure fire that would have endangered private property owners and businesses in that area if not for the quick efforts of the Stratmoor Hills Fire Department and other responding agencies. In general, and as has been evidenced by these particular camps, crime and dangerous conditions are often inherent to the daily life of those experiencing homelessness. Conversely, the quality of life of housed persons living and working in that immediate area has also certainly been degraded by the presence of these camps.
The challenge governmental agencies have had until recently with this set of camps is the fact that they were erected on private property, and their construction was either actively or passively permitted by the property owner(s). Outside of judge-ordered civil action(s), this private property dynamic has prevented any ability of governmental agencies to conduct immediate, proactive enforcement/cleanup of the camps.
However, last month, as a result of civil action filed by the County Attorney’s Office in district court with the goal of furthering public safety and enforcing county codes, a judge ordered Code Enforcement and Sheriff’s Office personnel to go onto these private properties on which the problematic homeless camps were erected and clear them out.
As a result, a month-long joint effort concluded yesterday involving El Paso County Code Enforcement and El Paso County Sheriff’s Office personnel that resulted in all but one of the camps situated along B Street and in Stratmoor Hills having been removed and cleaned up. The final remaining camp is set to be cleared out in January of 2023.
If a person with whom you have influence or you are experiencing homelessness, don’t hesitate to reach out to any number of homeless shelters or long-term housing assistance programs offered in the area. For immediate housing needs, there were just under 100 shelter beds available at the Springs Rescue Mission located at 5 West Las Vegas Street in the City of Colorado Springs as of last night.
The Sheriff’s Office, and its partners within the greater El Paso County government, stands committed to working within the law to make this community safe in which we live and work.
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