A week after Grand Junction police cleaned up nearly 40 homeless camps along the Colorado River, few of the displaced people are seeking the available resources to them.
We first told you about the controversial plan that homeless advocates described as "evictions" in this June 8 article. Since a failed appeal to city council, police have moved forward with the clean-up.
"We took out 40, 40-yard dumpsters full of trash and debris," Kate Porras with the Grand Junction Police Department said. "There was a riding lawn mower, half a dozen TVs, six or seven mattresses, and a large amount of human waste."
"They were just horrible conditions for anybody to be living in."
The plan to clean-up, which police say has been done several times before at other parts of the Colorado River, was met with harsh resistance.
Homeless advocate group "Housing First! No More Deaths!" claimed the homeless were being "deliberately targeted" by police. They accused GJPD's Homeless Outreach Team of developing relationships and earning the trust of these people before turning their backs.
But, police say these clean-ups have long been a part of the plan. "Our HOT team has been communicating with the people down there and those who choose to stay behind are being forced to leave," Porras said. "At some point, we have got to take care of tremendous amount of trash and debris that is down there."
For this round of clean-up, police focused on a stretch of private property between the Pepsi Plant and the Colorado River near Grand Avenue. "The property owner had been asking us for some time to clean the area up, so we stepped in."
Under the process, police post notices of clean-up which gives these people between three and five days to pack up their belongings and leave. "We know it's a process, we know it's not something that's going to happen overnight."
Police aren't sure where the displaced people have gone, but staff at the Homeward Bound homeless shelter in Grand Junction say they have seen a few people walk through their doors.
"We haven't seen a great increase in people, so some of them moved on down the valley somewhere else," Executive Director AJ Johnson said.
Out of the 40 camps evicted by city police, only a handful have reached out for help. "You have to understand a little bit of their story to understand their needs and how we can help them if we can help them at all," Johnson said.
But shelter staff says even the small number of lives that they have been able to help change is a win in itself. "Anytime we get anybody to go into any kind of housing or a situation changes, we look at it as a success."
Police tell us they will continue these river clean-ups as long as they need to.