(KFOR News Lincoln, NE 07/17/21) City of Lincoln officials Friday provided additional details on the City’s and its partners’ efforts Wednesday to manage an unhealthy and potentially dangerous situation for homeless residents of Lincoln.
Jon Carlson, Deputy Chief of Staff, said that Lincoln Fire and Rescue (LFR) and the Lincoln Lancaster County Health Department (LLCHD) responded to residents’ concerns about people living in an area along Salt Creek near Sun Valley Boulevard and Line Drive. After inspecting the site, LFR and LLCHD staff determined that a homeless encampment in that location presented a severe health and safety risk to the people living there.
LFR found a significant threat of fire because of numerous combustible materials that included dead trees, dry brush, wood, grills, propane tanks, and gasoline cans. LFR also determined that due to the remoteness of the site, it would be difficult for fire-fighting equipment and first responders to access the area to rescue individuals in case of fire or medical emergency. Additionally, LLCHD staff found trash and human waste at the site.
Following those inspections, City teams began coordinating with service agencies through the Homeless Coalition www.lincolnhomelesscoalition.org to provide help. Beginning June 24, homeless outreach workers from Matt Talbot Kitchen and Outreach (MTKO) contacted people in the area to connect them with housing and other support services.
Carlson said Friday that outreach workers and City teams talked with people in the area repeatedly throughout late-June and early July to help them understand this area was not safe, other shelter was available, and items needed to be removed. During outreach work from July 7 through 9, MTKO and City teams found the encampment had been abandoned.
Carlson said that continued to be the case when teams visited the location Monday, July 12 and Tuesday, July 13. On Wednesday, July 14, Lincoln Transportation and Utilities, LLCHD and contracted crews began cleaning up the site.