Complaints of Homeless “Tent Cities” in Houston

Houston's mayor this week is expected to unveil his plan to deal with the city homeless population -- this while some residents complain of so-called "tent cities" in their neighborhoods.

The city's police chief last week told residents the mayor's plan may involve a campground-type concept.

“Its hard to control, because when they're not doing anything wrong there's nothing you can do,” says the manager of a salon on W. Alabama Street.  “We had an issue last week with one guy, but I think he was drunk and passed out, outside on the street.”

Business owners and residents in the city's Midtown neighborhood have been frustrated by an increase in homeless encampments.

“We had a couple of people coming in here trying to use the bathroom, they want to use the bathroom, that's an inconvenience,” he says.  “I'm not saying that they're dangerous, but you never know.”

The mayor's office this month reported the city had removed more than 156 tons of debris and trash during 40 separate cleanups of highway underpasses, intersections and parking lots in the Midtown/Museum District since last October.

“We don't want all the coverage, because we are earnestly trying to get up on our feet, we don't want your hand outs, we're trying to work, and if you have a job we'll take that,” says one man who sleeps in a tent off Milam Street.

He believes concerns within the community are overblown.

“I came back here, I raked all this up and I cleaned,” he says.  “I keep this area neat because I'm not messy.”

However, even he admits to being a victim of crime.  “You see my tent?  People cut into my tent and steal my food.”

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