With recent sweep, homeless issues reach boiling point

FORT COLLINS - Fort Collins police located 54 illegal campsites and issued 32 citations on Wednesday during the latest city-initiated homeless enforcement sweep, mirroring a similar effort in May aimed at curtailing a spiking number of illegal camps primarily along the Poudre River.

In addition to the summonses – mostly for illegal camping-related offenses – Fort Collins police arrested one person on an outstanding warrant and located 26 established campsites that were unattended. The number of contacts during a May 7 enforcement effort were the same with the biggest difference being the number of unattended sites located on Wednesday where police believe campers got word of the sweep and fled before officers arrived.

"The goal isn't to cite as many as we can," Patrol Division Chief Jerry Schiager said. "The goal is to get the word out that it's illegal behavior."

Transient and homeless issues in Fort Collins have reached a boiling point in recent months. Police say they have experienced four times as many calls for service involving homeless-related issues since May, and residents touring in and around Old Town and the Poudre River have complained of and apparent spike in people camping, littering and panhandling.

A survey conducted by Homeward 2020 last month found that Fort Collins' summer homeless population has increased by nearly 150 people since January. The total number of homeless individuals identified in Fort Collins was 438, up from 289 in January. Of those people, at least 39 respondents – nearly 10 percent – said they were travelers who were just passing through.

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