OGDEN, Utah, Dec. 10, 2020 (Gephardt Daily) — Efforts are underway Thursday to clean up a transient camp in Ogden.
“Ogden City and other public agencies have received numerous complaints of the transient camp issue on W. 33rd Street adjoining the Lantern House shelter,” said a news release from Ogden PD.
Calls to the police department for service to this camp, which is not legal, have included:
• 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.
The Weber/Morgan Health Department contacted the city concerning the presence of human feces and related sanitary conditions and requested that action is taken, the news release said.
“Given the potential for the spread of COVID-19 and other communicable diseases often found in camps like these, risks from camp members spread throughout the city at locations where camp members go, including convenience stores, coffee shops, retail stores, and service agencies,” the news release added.
“Up to this point, Ogden City has taken a moderated approach during the pandemic. However, the situation has now become untenable. The size of the camp continues to grow, and the impact is being felt throughout the city.”
The news release added: “City crews are cleaning garbage and related debris regularly, exposing themselves to health risks as well as an occasional angry camp member. 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.”
The Ogden City Police and Fire Departments have now begun efforts to clean up the camp. They will be accompanied by personnel from Weber/Morgan Health Department, Weber Human Services, Weber County Homeless Coordinating Council, Weber Housing Authority, and other service providers. This group will offer services to members of the camp, and where necessary, enforcement actions will be taken.
Ogden City ordinances forbid any person from pitching tents or placing sleeping materials within the city right of way.
“The Lantern House, located immediately adjacent to the camp and other homeless facilities, have space to house members of the camp,” the news release said. “Ogden City monitors availability of shelter space daily. Lantern House and other local providers have taken extraordinary measures to reduce the spread of coronavirus within local shelters. Several of these providers regularly offer space to the camp members but are turned down. The camp is not beneficial and is actually detrimental to the health, safety, and welfare of its occupants.”
Ogden City is asking for the assistance of community members in alleviating the situation.
“Some members of the public have delivered food, clothing, tents, and similar items directly to camp members,” the news release said. “While well-meaning, this activity actually makes things worse as the city has become aware of increasing assaults, thefts, and robberies within the camp as certain camp members take advantage of weaker ones. Many of the delivered items are also sold for cash, while others are regularly discarded in the streets, parks, or other areas where transients congregate, resulting in further expense to the city to remove.”
Ogden City asks those wishing to help to donate directly to the service providers and shelters, who can then use the items as part of their intake and services to improve the situation for the homeless. Donations for the homeless are accepted locally by the Lantern House, Salvation Army, Youth Futures, Your Community Connection and others.