KICKED OUT: Homeless Camp Bulldozed

A Des Moines homeless camp was bulldozed and cleared out Wednesday morning.

It comes after the city asked everyone staying there to pack up and leave.

About a dozen homeless people grabbed what they could Wednesday morning and watched as the city cleared out the area they once called home.

“It makes no sense to me, we’re not causing any problems,” says John Dingeman who stays at the camp.

The city bulldozed the camp and tossed what was left into a garbage truck.

Dingeman says he and his friends had little notice.

“It’s nerve-racking, I mean this is all our personal belongings and they’re telling us hey it don’t matter we’re going to go ahead and throw them in the garbage truck like we’re nobody,” says Dingeman.

Dingeman says he stayed at the make-shift camp for more than four years and has never had any issues.

“It’s not right, I could see if we were causing problem and were trouble makers down here not caring about anyone but ourselves but that`s not true,” says Dingeman.

City leaders have a different story.

“The use of public spaces is just not an appropriate use for ongoing habitation.  There are sanitation issues, fire issues, they can be violent, they can be unsafe,” says Community Development Director for the City of Des Moines Phil Delafield.

Delafield says the city received a complaint on August 2nd from someone walking on the trail with their grandchild.

The person reported they were confronted by someone staying at the camp and then chased by a large dog.

The city investigated and found several violations at the camp.

“It’s not a safe location, it’s not a suitable arrangement for anybody to have to live in,” says Delafield.

Delafield also says the city offered the homeless group several alternatives before clearing out the camp.

“We’re sensitive to the needs of the homeless, we reach out through the care providers in the community and try to make sure the resources that are available in this community are directed to where the need is,” says Delafield.

But those left packing up their belongings feel otherwise.

‘I had to tear my home down, I didn’t have a chance,” says Dingeman.

The city says only one person staying at the camp took advantage of the services provided.

The city only goes into a camp after receiving a complaint, and those are dealt with on a case by case basis.

The city says it always provides 30-days notice before clearing a camp, in this case it was nearly two months.

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