TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — If you drive down Golf Links, you have probably been seeing a large homeless camp along that road for quite some time. The City of Tucson has cleared out that camp but not before making sure the people who lived here had a place to go.
City workers specialized in helping the homeless call Smoky the captain of the camp that grew along Golf Links
He says, “To kind of build our own little community, our own thing. There’s safety in numbers, they say.”
But now the camp is coming down. City of Tucson crews are clearing the tents and improvised shelters but before that work started, the city started working weeks ahead to convince the residents to be willing to move and to be sure they had spaces to move to.
Allison Chappell of Tucson Housing First says, “The fact that we kept coming out and we didn't just come out one time but we were out here every other day for four weeks, if not daily, and that was part of the I think it helped their comfort, you know, and let them know what they were really signing up for essentially.”
The residents had to give up a lot of the little they own to be able to move into shelters but in exchange they can get help with drug abuse, and other issues that may keep them from holding jobs
Smoky says, “Now to go back into society. You know, back to showers, hot meals, and the possibility of work is what some of us look forward to, but same time we’re a lot nervous about it.”
Brandi Champion is program director for Tucson Housing First.
“We work with agencies that do substance abuse treatment, we have connections to job services, you know, volunteer opportunities for these people, if that's what they'd like to do, just to try to get their feet wet a little in the job market.”
Smoky says, “A lot of different people speaking out for us and because of that we’re able now to have a warm bed, a warm room, hot showers and we’re grateful for all those people that reached out for us, you know and for the people that decided to come along and help.”
Craig Smith is a reporter for KGUN 9. With more than 30 years of reporting in cities like Tampa, Houston and Austin, Craig has covered more than 40 Space Shuttle launches and covered historic hurricanes like Katrina, Ivan, Andrew and Hugo. Share your story ideas and important issues with Craig by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by connecting on Facebook and Twitter.