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Stand taken, arrests made at site of former homeless camp

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INDIANAPOLIS – Police arrested five people who refused to leave a homeless camp Monday morning, among them four activists and the self-described leader of the camp.

Earlier in the morning, about 20 homeless people were still at the camp located under a CSX train track that needs to be worked on. Police had given a Monday morning deadline for everyone to clear the area.

“We’re like family down here… Everybody helps each other,” one camp resident said.

People who live at the camp say they have few, if any, alternatives.  Many told Fox 59 they would simply find a new place to camp, rather than accept services offered at the camp by agencies like Wheeler Mission.

“I (won’t) go to no mission, no,” resident Reginald Smith said.

City officials called the camp a health hazard and said CSX, the company that owns the tracks, wants to come in to do some construction work.

“They’ve not been able to do inspections for more than a year, because of the folks living here,” Scott Manning with the Office of Sustainability said.

As police arrested those five people, camp leader Maurice Young told Fox 59 that he was being arrested to take a stand.

“I hope we can get to the table and have that discussion, so we can have a win-win situation for the homeless in Indianapolis,” Young said.

There are several resources in Indianapolis for people facing homelessness:

Wheeler Mission Ministries provides emergency shelter services and residential programs for men and women as well as addiction recovery programs. Tuesday, Aug. 27 is Wheeler Mission Night at Victory Field with $5 of every ticket sold going to the mission.

HVAF, the Hoosier Veterans Assistance Foundation of Indiana, helps veterans find homes, jobs and addiction recovery programs. HVAF has several housing developments in Indianapolis.

Back on My Feet Indianapolis is a chapter of the national organization that uses running to help those facing homelessness find a new passion and purpose in life. BOMF helps people find work and permanent places to live. Back on My Feet Indy works with The Wheeler Mission and HVAF to support, motivate and educate those overcoming homelessness.