Dozens of homeless people in Grand Junction are left to find a new place to live after railroad officials force them off "The Point."
The famed homeless camp at the confluence of the Gunnison and Colorado Rivers will close this weekend thanks to railroad construction before a new fence will prevent them from crossing the train tracks to their campsite.
"Maybe as many as 35, 40 [people live there]," Homeward Bound Volunteer Coordinator Mark Taylor explained. The homeless shelter on North Avenue is playing an intricate role in the lives affected by the eviction.
For more than a decade, dozens of people have made their ways down steep hill sides and across railroad tracks to "The Point." Dating back to before 2000, the small community has grown to today's complex collection of shelters and even electricity.
"Tents, sleeping bags, blankets, clothes," Taylor listed of what you'll find there. "There are two generators - everything a community would need."
But all that is coming to an end thanks to Union Pacific. The rail company is planning mid-March construction to reinforce the slopes along the track. Officials say a planned fence will keep people off the tracks and out of danger, but cut off access to their camp sites.
"There's obviously a lot of mixed feelings. Some people have been down there for 8, 10 years," Taylor said.
For some, the eviction brings back painful memories of when they were forced off Watson Island up river. A move downstream seemed permanent.
At the same time, for others it's a new beginning. Some call it a blessing in disguise. "We were able to work with family down there that had family in Montana," Taylor noted. "We were able to move that whole family up there and that move included a job."
Taylor says eleven families that were displaced have already found homes willing to take them in, a handful of individuals are taking advantage of free services at the shelter and in the community, and still many more have relocated to another spot along the river.
The weekend of March 3 and 4 will be one designated to cleaning up "The Point." Over 50 volunteers plan to chip in and already a handful of organizations have donated services and food to help out.