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If you’ve been downtown this week, you may have noticed it. Fewer tents, sleeping bags and cardboard lean-to’s on sidewalks in areas that were filled with them not long ago.
It’s part of the city’s plan to stop the spread of the Hepatitis A virus as city crews sanitize sidewalks and streets, police clear areas of homeless people and organizations that serve the homeless step up efforts to get homeless into some kind of clean shelter.
The announcement by the Mayor this week that a city operations site is about to be turned into a homeless camp for about 200 people is a major step with more major steps coming in the form of three huge tent-structure like shelters for hundreds more over the next two to three months.
And the fact that the new homeless camp at the city operations yard at 20th and B will be run by the Alpha Project and its leader Bob McElroy and his staff is good news.
McElroy knows his stuff when it comes to helping the homeless. The Alpha Square apartments for former homeless people are a success story. His plan for the new transitional homeless camp that opens Monday will have bathrooms and showers and a meal every day and even some activities for the people who are there.
And to avoid the site from becoming just another homeless town all around it in the neighborhood, his staff will be going out on the streets downtown and bringing homeless people to it. There will be rules and there will be monitoring and there will be help.
It’s only a temporary homeless camp, as the other shelters open up and other measures are taken, it will not be around long.
But there is hope now that things will start getting better. They already have, in case you haven’t noticed.
(Photo credit Getty Images)