HOUSTON – Parents fed up with crimes committed by the homeless crowded Houston City Hall on Tuesday.
In the Near Northside neighborhood, there is new noise screaming for attention.
“My neighborhood is not safe at all,” said Sarah Castillo, a mom who lives in the neighborhood.
Mothers, fathers, even a former Harris County sheriff faced city council and asked for solutions.
“My neighbors and I today want to offer suggestions,” said former Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia.
They want better protection from crime in the homeless community. Less than three weeks ago, 11-year-old Josue Flores was stabbed 20 times as he walked home from school. His accused killer is a homeless man.
However, even after police arrested their suspect in the Flores killing, parents like Castillo and Petra Olvera worry about the drug deals, break-ins, aggressive panhandling and public urination that they see every night.
“This has been going on for years,” Olvera said. “People don’t actually know what’s going on once the lights go down. When you actually drive and walk the streets, you can see all the horrible things that go on.”
“I’ve got a 10-year-old son that can’t go outside of our house,” Castillo said. “I will not let him go outside of our house. I will not let him stand on the front porch and wait for us.”
“I don’t think we have strong enough rules on the books that gives HPD the authority to deal with this issue,” Councilman Larry Green said during the council meeting.
While council briefly discussed everything from stronger laws to opening a new police storefront in the Near Northside area, all agree the issue is city wide.
“It is critically important that we not have two cities in one (haves and have nots),” Mayor Sylvester Turner said during the meeting.
“There’s a lot of people on the streets for different reasons,” said Karla Cisneros, councilwoman for District H. “Kush is a big problem. So, drugs is an issue. We have transients. There’s mental health issues that aren’t being addressed.”
“I think we all need to be working together to find solutions for those that are in crisis that are on the street,” said councilwoman Brenda Stardig, who oversees District J. “But at the same time, we need to make sure that we are enforcing the existing laws.”
Until then, Near Northside moms plan to holler for more help.