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Homeless Make Case for Why They Should Stay Living by the River

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- Homeless residents, advocates and their legal team made their case before a Polk County judge Monday about why they should be able to keep living, with their possessions, at camp sites near the rivers in Des Moines.

City leaders notified about two dozen homeless people they could no longer live, along with their tents full of personal possessions, on city property. They cited safety and welfare concerns for both the homeless, as well as walkers, runners and cyclists who pass near the homeless camps. The homeless affected appealed the city's actions.

Some of the homeless faced with eviction spent nearly 6 1/2 hours before a judge at the Des Moines City Hall. One by one they argued that fights and overcrowding don't make trying to get into a homeless shelter a viable option. Besides, they say, the shelter limits them to a 90 day stay.

City leaders concede there are more homeless than beds. And they say they are working on a longer-term solution for the city's homeless but say current code mandates the homeless must leave from their camp sites.

Rodney Baysinger said he lives at a camp site with several others. He said he finds occasional temp work but hasn't been able to find a steady job that allows him to afford an apartment. "Without my tent," Baysinger told the judge, "I'm at the mercy of insects and everything else."

Baysinger said he can't afford to live in traditional housing. So living in a tent by the river is his only alternative.

The judge said she would try to have a ruling on their appeals within 30 days.


  • Patricia Ballas

    If the homeless people are not being loud ,disrespectful,threatening, or trashing the area they are camping on then leave them alone. Everyone wants to complain wants to send them somewhere but when it comes to doing something NOBODY STEPS UP. Don’t put a shelter in my neighborhood ! Oh they’re all drunks or druggies ,well I have seen more drunks living in middle to high income neighborhoods then shelters. Let them be unless you have immediate solutions.They just want to live peacefully and in some cases keep families together.

  • Rob Cox

    If that’s the life they choose and are not harming others then leave them be,but If it starts costing me more in taxes then make the homeless pay their way. I’m not paying anymore…..

    • Sue

      they are costing you more in taxes. they also cost businesses money as they go in and clean up in the restrooms. It is also causing tax payers to feel unsafe in the public areas our tax dollars are paying for. I realize that not all of them are bad people. Poor does not equal bad. but, there are enough of them that have nothing to lose that make it a dangerous situation.

  • Marianne

    These homeless people mind their own business and they know the risks of living by the river. Let them be. Seldom is anything heard about them being in trouble or causing trouble. I give them kudos for learning to adapt to their situations and trying to live on their own and not off the government. They don’t use power or running water. WHO ARE THEY HURTING????

  • Dawn Lewis Ulrey

    In my opinion the city should build little huts for the homeless to live in along the river and leave them alone. They can charge “rent” by having the homeless pick up trash and debris, plant flowers, etc. People don’t always fit into neatly checked boxes.

  • William Denison

    My heart breaks for these people. The women speaking of her little home made me cry. Now I’m really angry.

  • BrutallyHonest

    I am on the river a lot and i encounter the homeless a lot while i am fishing at the river or on my boat on the river. NEVER have i had any issue nor have i felt unsafe when i am around homeless people. Sure you get the occasional homeless guy coming up and asking for a cigarette, but that does not bother me at all. I feel much more unsafe is some of the neigherborhoods around drake and along university from MLK all the way east to 6th ave, but i do not see people complaining about that or asking the city to kick those people out of those neighborhoods. Looking at the polk county inmates site, i very rarely see a homeless person that has been arrested. These people in general do not bother anyone, so why are we bothering them. If you are not trying to help them, then leave them alone.

    • Still Scared

      Brutal – I generally enjoy your posts. You are, truly, brutally honest and I respect you for that.
      I was mugged by a homeless man when walking to my car when I worked downtown. As he punched me and took my purse, he commented ‘well, ya know how us homeless people are’. Does that mean all homeless people are bad? of course not, but, once bitten, twice shy. I guess if I were a better person, I would forgive and forget, assuming that he needed my belongings worse than I did. It is very hard to get over something like that though. My husband and I work hard for everything that we have. to have someone just take it like that is very disheartening. I think the guy that mugged me was both intelligent and healthy enough that he could have had a job had he so chosen.

  • wendy

    If they are not hurting any one then leave them alone, if they are causing a problem then yes move them. They should be able to live any where they want to just like we live in our homes.

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