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City of Des Moines Begins Homeless Camp Evictions

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DES MOINES, Iowa - The City of Des Moines said it gave about 50 homeless people living in camps along the river fair warning.  On Monday, city crews went from site to site making sure the campers had packed up and moved.

"Today they're going to come down and take everybody's stuff and throw it in the dump," said Don Welch.

Welch was kicked out of a camp site under the George Washington Carver Bridge.

The city brought in a garbage truck and end loader to remove the trash and belongings left behind.  Crews are targeting about a dozen remote campsites along the Des Moines and Raccoon Rivers.  Officials said most of the campers had already left on their own. Police were on hand to deal with any problems with the few who remained.

"If you don't leave, they're going to put you in jail," warned Welch.

"We're not about criminalizing homelessness. We don't want to arrest anybody, but at the same, it's time to move on," said Des Moines Community Development Director Phil Delafield.

Some of the homeless campers just moved downstream to a spot away from the Raccoon River only to learn that they would have to move for a second time.

"We're going to go on ahead and move out and then we won't have to worry about it and then we'll have all of our stuff," says Susan Withee.

Others checked into homeless shelters.

Central Iowa Shelter and Services said it won’t turn away anyone looking for a place to stay, but the shelter is out of beds.  More than 50 people slept in chairs in the shelter’s overflow area overnight.

Officials said the clean-up of the homeless camps will last the rest of this week and into next.


  • plynitsafe

    This is just horrific. They are not bothering anybody. Can’t even see them. So What is the Big Deal? Then I suggest someone get out the drawing board and build some more homeless shelters to keep all the homeless families off of “City/Govt'” Property …… I Didn’t know anybody owned the Des Moines River nor the Raccoon River.

  • Erin Drake

    How embarrassing that our state spends oodles of money on useless needless “artistic” constructs at rest stops but won’t build a decent homeless shelter. It must be nice for those who decided to run the poor away from THEIR land, considering the one’s making all the decisions live in “Ivory towers” and enjoy their paychecks that come from OUR checks. EPIC FAIL Des Moines!

  • Guest

    Why should be have to support them? They don’t try and help themselves. They throw trash everywhere, sit there on tv and smoke their cigarettes. How did they buy those? Half of them they interview are drunk! No, I don’t want my taxpayer money that I have to work 2 jobs for. If they help themselves then that would be different.

    • plucas1000

      People like you are truly idiotic. Poverty is not laziness, poverty is suffering. Maybe you should give it a try for real sometime before you pass judgment.

      You don’t want your taxpayer money to help the homeless? Well, how much of your tax payer money is the city spending on evicting these people? If they arrest them, how much of that money is going to be spent processing them, housing them, feeding them, paying legal fees they obviously can’t afford, etc, etc?

      If they people can’t stay by the river, where are they going to go? They obviously don’t have the money to travel. Maybe the’ll end up in your neighborhood next. I bet that would make you spit out your bottled evian, eh, Mr. two jobs?

      Its been proven in other communities that its actually cheaper and more prudent to create cheap housing for the homeless and to help them get on their feet, than to constantly throw money and resources into trying to harass or arrest them in a non-top cycle. You know, trying to smartly address the roots of the problem in a long-term manner rather than employing a short-term reactionary band-aid that has to be frequently reapplied and that will just cost everyone much more over time.

      • Sue

        Plucas1000 – what you are suggesting, cheap housing and help getting on their feet, sounds like a wonderful idea. As long as it is a temporary situation and the people being helped are expected to eventually take care of themselves. Perhaps while they are staying in that free housing, they could earn their keep by helping out on upkeep of the property.
        If you just decide to permanently house and pay for them, it’s just welfare. I’m all for a hand up, I’m tired of financing so many hand outs!

  • Lauren

    This is going on all over the country. Criminalizing poverty and being homeless. As the economy worsens, expect more of this. Be very lucky you have a job. The lower factory jobs are gone. So, lots of people are out of work. What a shameful country we have become. Lots of money for wars and Israel… the American people get nothing. Shame on us all for not speaking out for America’s survival.

  • Alabama Mothman

    Remind me never to live in Iowa. No wonder we get nothing but a bunch of criminals in government with these people voting first. Utterly disgusting people.

    There is NO hope for this country with people from Iowa voting

  • Gordon Wagner

    I have a message from God I want to relay to Iowa: FEED THE POOR. SHELTER THE HOMELESS. STOP BEING DICKS.

  • Mike Shaw

    This is what has become of our civic leaders. Instead of doing something for these people, they just sweep them under the rug. Karma is a nasty thing and our leaders will get their paybacks. Start by voting them out of office.

  • Call Me Nobody

    Iowa has never been the greatest state to live in, but it has started to become a totalitarian state. I hear the state is going to start taking your DNA for even a minor offense. Its joining the ranks of Illinois, California, New York and North Korea. Wish I could afford to move out and move on.

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