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Charleston homeless camp dismantled following rash of complaints from neighbors

CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) - Hundreds of people make their way down Greenbrier Street in Charleston every day.  Unbeknownst to those drivers, just up a steep path before Hillcrest Drive, more than a dozen people have been calling a small, flat spot home. 

One resident of the makeshift camp spoke with us.  She did not want us to identify her, but said, "Everybody up there stands up for each other.  We don't leave nobody out.  There are a few of us that are a little closer than others."

She said law enforcement gave them fair warning that this day was coming.  Living here, she said, isn't easy.  "It's awful.  Especially last night was really cold.  Out tent was really cold.  The wind was getting under it.  I couldn't get nobody to help.  We were freezing last night.  It was bad."

Charleston Police say they have received numerous complaints of crime in the area- things like trespassing, theft, breaking into vehicles.  Lt. Paul Perdue with the Charleston Police Department said, "This encampment has been what folks think has been causing the issues in the neighborhood."

But the woman we spoke with says she's not involved in any crime.  She said she worked for a local restaurant that recently closed its doors.  Next thing she knew, she couldn't pay rent or utilities.  She applied for unemployment, but it wasn't enough. 

Things now, however, may be looking up for her.  "Me and my fiancé just started a new job, so we hope in a couple weeks, things will be alright, but until then, we're going to have to find another place to put our tent."

Police didn't come here alone.  They brought help.  "Everywhere we go, every encampment we go to, every abandoned house, we always bring outreach with us," Lt. Perdue said.  "The resources here in the city are abundant, both to help folks and to find out ways to get help."

Meantime- the woman we spoke with who lives here says she has a message for anyone willing to listen.  "The next time you look over at somebody, especially with it being Christmas, think a little bit before you go judging them and maybe try to put yourself in their shoes."

Something both authorities and the folks they're policing said they can agree on.

The residents of the camp have until 8 a.m. on December 7 to vacate the property.  Police said it took weeks to locate the property owner.  Once they did reach him, he gave authorities permission to dismantle the camp. 

Stay with 13 News for more on this developing story.



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