BULLHEAD CITY — Many of those who work with the local homeless community were at the Parks and Recreation Commission meeting on Wednesday to comment on concerns expressed online that homeless people in city parks should be prevented from sitting or napping in the park for long spans of time — especially during daylight.

Commissioner Jack Hakim requested the issue be discussed after seeing Facebook posts with people concerned, complaining or, occasionally, afraid of the homeless people in city parks. Community Park is the site most frequently thought about as a location for area homeless people to congregate. However, they also can be found in other parks and public areas.

“I was concerned about what I was reading,” Hakim said. “I don’t want people to feel uncomfortable.”

He said he thought it would be a good idea to consider signage to let people — including the homeless — know the city doesn’t want to see loitering or camping in the parks.

People wanting to have picnics or sit down for awhile say they have been finding spots unavailable in Community Park. Homeless people are often seen gathered in small groups under covered picnic bench areas eating and chatting.

Their belongings — food, blankets, spare clothes and hygiene items — are placed on top of the picnic tables. These items are usually bagged, in backpacks, or wrapped in blankets.

“We are working toward solving some of those problems,” said Patty Jacques, homeless outreach specialist for Catholic Charities. ‘We’ve seen some tremendous results.”

She also stressed that the process isn’t speedy but that some of these people are getting places to live.

Jacques said that while she understands some of the concerns of residents who want to use the park, “these people aren’t down there to hurt anybody.”

She and others pointed out that it can be concerning when tables and benches at local parks might be full that the homeless men and women have a right to be there.

“It’s first-come, first-served,” said Mark Tierce, director of the Veterans Resource Centers of America’s Bullhead City office, which works with veterans across Mohave County. Some local veterans are homeless and the organization works to assist them with finding housing and a variety of other matters.

“If they’re doing something illegal, call police,” Tierce said. “If not, suck it up and move on.”

There are also park rangers who can help people who have concerns.

“We have a couple of claims on Facebook,”  said CJ Kelly, Guardian Foundation, which also works with local homeless people, including local homeless veterans, about some incidents between residents and local homeless people.

If these claims are true, Kelly said, “the police would have been involved.”

A homeless veteran said he felt like the city wanted to treat him and others like as if they were “no good.”

“You are wrong! I’m really passionate about homeless vets,” Hakim said. “I’m not opposed to homeless people. But I’m concerned about people who use that park.”

Someone else wanted to point out that homeless people can die as a result of the intense summer heat here in Bullhead City and that Leonard Joseph Collins, 55, who was found June 7 behind City Square, died from heat exposure, according to the Bullhead City Police Department.

One woman said she was a Facebook commenter and also said she knows people who are afraid to go to Community Park.

“I’m sure a lot (of them) are good; I’m sure a lot are not,” said Melissa McClure.

About 10 people spoke. Many suggested that people concerned about the city’s homeless situation learn more about it and consider assisting the various groups that work with this segment of the population.

Also brought up during the commission meeting was a court case brought by homeless people in Boise, Idaho. Currently, communities within the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals can’t prosecute homeless people for “involuntarily sitting, lying and sleeping in public,” according to a decision in Martin vs. Boise. That includes locations Arizona, Nevada and California, where there are fewer shelter beds available than homeless people.

Boise officials are seeking review of the circuit court decision by the U.S. Supreme Court on the case, which is also referred to as the “camping lawsuit,” according to the Associated Press.

If the high court reverses the lower court finding, cities could again penalize or prosecute homeless people for lingering in public areas.

The Parks and Recreation Commission would have made a recommendation to the City Council, where a final decision would be made. While the signage matter was set aside, the commissioners asked for updates about local homelessness — especially as it pertains to local parks.

At the city’s Homeless Task Force meeting on Thursday, discussion turned to the events of the night before.

Jeff Tipton, the city’s human services director, stressed that Hakim was only trying to help.

“He listens to everybody,” Tipton said about the former mayor who was just reappointed to the commission for two more years on Tuesday. “I’m not saying it was right or indifferent. He just wanted to offer solutions.”

Jacques and others at this meeting agreed that educating the public about homelessness is key.

For example, construction is projected to be done sometime in January on the Bullhead City Homeless Shelter and Day Center, which will be on the 1500 block of Oatman Road. Catholic Charities still requires $600,000 to pay for its entire $1.4 million share of the construction costs.

And volunteers to work in the new shelter will be needed. Small donations are welcome. Bottled water donations are especially needed now that summer is here.

Jacques encouraged people interested in helping to reach out to Catholic Charities or one of the other groups in the community that assist the homeless.

Some believe the structure will empty all local parks and public areas of homeless men and women. Those who work with these people stress that it will reduce the number of people here who have no home and help others slowly regain control of their lives. But there will still be people living on the streets. 

That group will likely include veterans — some who suffer from PTSD or other mental health and behavioral problems, said Jacques and Tierce.

(11) comments

Wile E Coyote

Let these so-called "advocates" prevail and then start the countdown to see how long it takes for Bullhead turning into another L.A. or San Francisco.

jenn

bullhead WILL NOT become LA. i am myself a homeless single woman in bhc with my son. i know what is happening all to well

Commonsense

I recently had two friends that have always worked become homeless it first and last and electric deposit to get in a place most people.just don't have it anymore. I meet the homeless they are kinder people than the ones I'm seeing here. Their sure nothing to be scared of they are the scared ones not knowing what's next for them. Be careful your probably only one month pay check away from it yourself.

Widow2

I think it’s really sad that there so many homeless veterans as well as other homeless people. I believe that the Veteran’s Administration would help all of the homeless veterans if they’d just reach out to the VA. I also believe that some of the “veterans” aren’t really who they say they are but portray themselves as such to get attention. I also believe that many of the homeless people COULD get jobs if they’d clean themselves up and look for work rather than take the lazy way out and panhandle. I feel like I’m trying to do my part in giving to the homeless people out there. I carry cold water in my car everywhere I go and offer it to any and all homeless people I see. I’ve already had some of them tell me they don’t want water!!! The actually tell me they want CASH!! Now THAT IS WRONG and tells me they’re either too lazy to work or they’re not really homeless. Those that really are homeless will accept the water and thank you profusely. I hope and pray that a homeless shelter WILL be built for the legitimate homeless people.

Wile E Coyote

The last thing we need here in Bullhead City is for the place to become a haven for the "homeless". We don't need to turn this place into another Los Angeles or San Francisco.

rcgreener

You "Advocates" who moved here from LA and San Francisco go back. You moved here because of the wholesome family, small town living and to escape from the drugs and homelessness invading your cities. Now you want to destroy this paradise with your liberal ways. You will make our parks not suitable for decent families. Who is paying taxes to keep these parks clean and safe?? Its not the homeless........

kenoj

Bullhead City and the surrounding communities need to stop trying to cater to these so called 'homeless'. Being homeless for the most part is not a disease, it is a choice, many choose to be homeless looking for every handout and freebie they can get. As a working individual, I despise this and those that want to get a life long free ride. If the door is opened to these so called homeless people this entire area will very quickly be over run. The last thing this area needs is to turn into another Los Angeles or San Francisco. If you do not think it can happen, let me point you to a city that I moved out here from 20 plus years ago, it is now over run with homeless and filth and it happened within a very short period of time. We need a complete 'say no to homeless' campaign in this area, if others choose to be homeless, fine they can be and can make that choice, just do not do it here as the way I look at it, they are not welcome in my community. Go somewhere else.

jenn

so the first part is so way wrong. i am homeless, i DID NOT choose this. me being out here living on the streets with my son it was forst we got kicked out of our house three years ago. the streets is where we now live. i DO NOT WANNA BE HERE. now anyone jumps down my throat i can not work i do have physical problems that prevent me. ask me n i will be glad to share

jenn

i do not enjoy be a single homeless woman. it really hurts yes in every way you can think of. ask me any questions n yes i will answer all honesty

IndependentThinker

I agree with the previous letters completely. Helping is one thing, encouraging homeless is another. We don't want CA values determining how we live. IF you didn't leave them in CA then go back.

Nema

I live in San Francisco. It’s ironic to read comments here about how you don’t want to be like San Francisco or LA. It’s true we have a huge number of homeless people. Where do you think they come from? They come to the big cities looking for opportunities they can’t find in their smaller cities and towns. It’s time for all towns and cities to step up and do their part to house everyone. Even better would be a national commitment to provide housing for all. Nothing fancy, just a bed, bath, refrigerator, microwave, and a door with a lock. That’s what people need in order to get cleaned up and look for a job. Forget hate, no-loitering laws, get-out-of-town attitudes, shelters, and the whole homelessness industry. And stop blaming homeless people and the big cities that that offer them more services and compassion than your small towns. Homes cure homelessness.

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