Homeless Evicted From Beneath Indianapolis Bridge

Residents Debate Merits Of Move

Homeless people who are living beneath a railroad overpass on Indianapolis' near-east side will be evicted on Monday, three days after Mayor Greg Ballard toured the camp.

Signs went up at the Davidson Street encampment, warning the homeless to gather their belongings and get out by 5 p.m., 6News' Tanya Spencer reported.

The city planned to close and fence off sidewalks beneath the bridge on Monday and destroy any belongings left behind.

"It's kind of sad to see something like that happen. I just wish and pray that they would get a place to stay," said resident Diana Joiner.

Deputy Mayor Robert Vane said the city is not being cold-hearted, but simply putting the safety of area citizens first.

A growing number of break-ins into houses and garages in the area around the homeless camp generated a barrage of complaints recently.

At a meeting earlier this month, people who live nearby expressed frustration about the homeless camp, a message that was clearly heard.

"It's terrible, and it doesn't improve," said Richard Campi at the meeting earlier in the month. "It keeps growing, and we are tired of it."

Business owners complained that the homeless, along with the trash and human waste they leave behind, is scaring away customers.

Homeless groups, city officials and neighbors have been trying to find a solution palatable to all, but because many homeless people simply won't go to a shelter, the city saw eviction as its best option.

"A lot of them may be alcoholics … they're going to stay alcoholics, but still, love is love to me," said resident Jimmy Joiner, who disagrees with the eviction. "So much money is taken out of my taxes. I wouldn't mind if another 75 cents or $1 went out of my taxes for that purpose of helping somebody. We're helping everybody else, even the people over in Haiti. We're sending money there. I mean, what about our people in Indianapolis?"

Some of the homeless spent Sunday moving their belongings from the Davidson Street bridge to another bridge nearby.

City officials hope that by working with homeless organizations, people who live on the streets of Indianapolis can be coaxed into seeking assistance.

Officials said shelters were notified in advance of the planned eviction and that homeless organizations talked to people living at the bridge about other options.