OGDEN, Utah (ABC4 News) – Ogden City and various community partners are conducting operations to alleviate homeless camp issues surrounding the area where the Lantern House is located. 

The city says they have received numerous complaints of the transient camp issue on W. 33rd Street adjoining the Lantern House shelter.

Many calls have been made to the police about the issue. The calls according to police have included:

• Aggravated assault, assault, and theft within the camp.
• Harassment of members of the public by camp members and deliberate damage to at least one
vehicle driving down the street.
• Campfires in the public way, creating a significant risk to persons in the camp as well as neighboring businesses and requiring a response by the Ogden Fire Department.
• Trespassing, vandalism, and thefts affecting neighboring businesses.

According to a press release, the Weber/Morgan Health Department contacted the city concerning the presence of human feces and related sanitary conditions and requested that action be taken.

Due to the potential for the spread of COVID-19 and other communicable diseases often found in camps like these, the city is concerned about risks from camp members spreading throughout the city at locations where camp members go, including convenience stores, coffee shops, retail stores, and service agencies.

Up to this point, Ogden City says they have taken a moderated approach during the pandemic.

However, the situation has now become unmanageable.

The size of the camp continues to grow, and the impact is being felt throughout the city, according to a press release.

City crews say they are cleaning garbage and related debris regularly, exposing themselves to health risks as well as an occasional angry camp member.

The press release also stated the presence of police and other city personnel is a constant requirement in the area, and city resources are being expended at a rapid rate to deal with this illegal encampment and the related unlawful behaviors.

The Ogden City Police and Fire Departments will soon initiate efforts to alleviate the issue. They expect to be accompanied by personnel from Weber/Morgan Health Department, Weber Human Services, Weber County Homeless Coordinating Council, Weber Housing Authority, and other service providers, according to a press release.

This group will also offer services to members of the camp, and where necessary, enforcement actions will be taken.

According to a press release, Ogden City ordinances forbid any person from pitching tents or placing sleeping materials within the city right of way.

The press release added that some experiencing homelessness declined to stay in a shelter.

The Lantern House, located immediately adjacent to the camp and other homeless facilities, have space to house members of the camp. Ogden City says they monitor the availability of shelter space daily.

Lantern House and other local providers have taken extraordinary measures to reduce the spread of coronavirus within local shelters.

Several of these providers regularly offer space to the camp members but are turned down. The camp is not beneficial and is actually detrimental to the health, safety, and welfare of its

Ogden City is asking for the assistance of community members in alleviating this “dangerous and unhealthy” situation. Some members of the public have delivered food, clothing, tents, and similar items directly to camp members.

While well-meaning, the city says this activity actually makes things worse as the city has become
aware of increasing assaults, thefts, and robberies within the camp as certain camp members take
advantage of weaker ones.

Many of the delivered items are also sold for cash, while others are regularly discarded in the streets, parks, or other areas where transients congregate, resulting in further expense to the city to remove, according to city officials.

Ogden City asks those wishing to help to donate directly to the service providers and shelters, who can then use the items as part of their intake and services to improve the situation for the homeless.

Donations for the homeless are accepted locally by the Lantern House, Salvation Army, Youth
Futures, Your Community Connection, and others.

Ogden City says while they understand that homelessness is occurring locally and in other parts of the state, this specific situation may not continue. They added that it is in the best interest of the city, local businesses, and the general health of all, including the people in the camp, that it be removed.

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