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Longtime homeless camp “The Jungle” evacuated

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind-- The long time downtown homeless camp known as "The Jungle" saw its last day on Friday.

The last few people living in the camp, near Washington and Shelby St., were evacuated Friday morning.

CSX, who owns the property where the camp was housed, told campers they had until March 31 to clear out. The company cited safety as their main concern.

In a statement a spokesperson said:

“Since January, CSX has been actively working with the city of Indianapolis, area churches and social service agencies to transition individuals who have been occupying CSX property near an active rail line to safer living situations. Any activity near an active rail line is dangerous.”

At the height of its popularity, homeless advocates say the camp housed about 50 people. As of last week, one woman said at least 15 people were still living there.

“This is home to them, this is their home, they’re all family, and this is their home,” Shannon Adams said.

In recent weeks, homeless advocacy organizations like the Professional Blended Street Outreach have been working to transition those who were living in the camp ahead of its closure.

Despite the help, residents of the camp like William Nikolich say the prospect of leaving the camp is frustrating.

“There’s some of us that have been out here for 15, 20, 25 years,” he said.

Not everyone, including Nikolich accepted help from the PBSO. Some of the people living there have re-settled in another homeless camp near 38th and Arlington on the city’s East side.

According to the 2016 Point-In-Time Homeless count, there are 1,619 homeless people living in Marion County. However, some experts say that number may be much larger.