DES MOINES, Iowa — City Council members heard about possible ways to help Des Moines’ homeless population on Monday night.
Last week homeless campsites along the Des Moines and Raccoon Rivers were cleaned up. City workers brought in heavy equipment to remove all the garbage and belongings left behind.
The process began in May after the city told people living there to vacate city owned property.
Homeless advocate David Costello thinks it could have been handled better.
“I thought they could have been a lot more compassionate in the way they did it, some people got help and some people didn`t on the evictions and all of them need help,” says Costello.
Costello, who shared his concerns with the council, also had suggestions to help. Those included having more mental health services available and providing more support before kicking everyone out.
“We had options years ago we did a lot of things. We reunited people with their families, that`s pretty low budget and it helps, but you need people that can talk to the families and talk to the person,” says Costello.
Council members say they have budgeted for a person to do just that.
A homeless coordinator will be hired by the city to help facilitate all needs regarding the homeless population in Des Moines.
“One of the things I see is you need to have somebody who is charge of the homeless that gets up thinking about the homeless population, the homeless situation, what are the issues, and how do we deal with it. We don`t have anyone that does that right now in the community, so yes I think this will give it focus and priority,” says City Council Member Christine Hensley.
City officials are working to define the position and its requirements but say it should posting an opening for a homeless coordinator within the next several weeks.