HOUSTON – Mayor Sylvester Turner revealed plans to deal with people living under overpasses after the Super Bowl. He said the issue is complex and its solution will take time.
Under the Southwest Freeway between Caroline Street and Cleburne Street, there are “No Trespassing” and “No Camping” signs hanging above tents, mattresses still in plastic bags and crowds of people who live there.
“I don’t wish any ill harm to these folks but there is a safety and sanitation issue in our neighborhood and it needs to be address,” said James Horowitz who owns a law firm in the area.
Three weeks ago, uncomfortable neighbors heard councilman Dwight Boykins promise gradual change.
“It’s getting worse,” Horowitz said.
Neighbors told KHOU 11 News the “tent city” is growing.
“I have clients that come by so I’m starting to steer them in different directions so they don’t see (tents),” said Horowitz.
Councilman Boykins office deferred comment to Mayor Turner.
“I said that we would unveil a holistic, comprehensive plan,” Turner said. “I intend to do that the week of February 6th."
While accepting UH Downtown’s Person of the Year award for Social Work, Mayor Turner told the crowd the fate of those living under Houston’s overpasses and bridges keeps him up at night.
“You can’t just go move them or just write a citation or put them in jail,” Turner said. “What is that going to do? You can’t move them from one neighborhood to another. Then, you (would have) people complaining in that particular neighborhood. So we have to deal with them on a case by case basis.”
Turner said most camps include chronic homeless, mentally ill, people on drugs and many people who refuse to accept help. However, in time, he said neighbors will see signs of change.