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  • Homeless "Community" Forming - Anything to be done?

    The intent of this post is simply to find out if there is anything illegal going on or at least something the police should be notified about. I don't claim to know too much about the law regarding homelessness and I ask these questions out of pure innocence and curiosity.

    Outside my apartment complex in Charlotte, NC, a homeless community has formed. There is an empty plot of land next to a storage facility across from the entrance of our complex. This land was empty when I moved in 2 months ago - March 2020. Steadily, over the course of 2 months, 25-30 tents have been constructed on the plot of land and the homeless have formed a community where they gather, dress/undress, and mingle around the storage facility building and around the entrance to the complex. Let me make this clear - they do not pose any known threats and I have not witnessed any illegal activity going on. However, I have noticed a few issues that may grow in the future.

    Firstly, we cannot park our cars outside of the complex because on multiple occasions cars have been broken into and things have been stolen. Second, the homeless people walk in and out of our complex even though it is a gated community. On several occasions, I have witness them walk in behind a car as a resident is opening a gate, take a stroll through the complex, and exit through a gate on the other side when they see a resident open it. Additionally, they speak to the residents, and on one occasion a homeless man asked me if I was the mail lady. There is a dirt path just outside of our parking lot fence in which they walk back and forth multiple times a day - my window looks directly onto this path and on multiple occasions I have been woken up in the middle of the night by them yelling, singing, talking loudly, and pushing grocery carts along this path.

    The biggest issue I see is that they use our garbage cans and dumpster. Yesterday at 9:00AM, I saw two people exit the homeless tent community with a grocery cart full of trash, walked into the entrance to our complex (gate is open when leasing office is open), to the dumpster, and emptied the contents of the cart. While going to my mailbox one day, I witnessed someone who was clearly homeless deposit a large bag of trash in our trash can next to the mailboxes.

    During this COVID-19 crisis, I am wondering if it is even okay to have a gathering of 25-30 people who've set up a makeshift community with tents and other belongings. Keep in mind that I am a young, single woman who lives alone and the point to getting this apartment was so that I would be able to walk to work/public transportation and save about a hundred dollars a month in parking. To get to public transportation, I have to walk past the community and under and overpass to get to the station. The homeless people often hang out underneath here.

    Is there something to be done about all of this? What specifically can I take action for? Is anything unlawful being done, or is it all legal and just "bad practices"? I feel unsafe in my own home, even though there have been no actual reports of something happening in this area. However, they are still new and I worry about the future of their numbers. If there is something to be done about this, please inform me on the best way possible to go about this situation. I do not want to bother any police force in the area if this is simple a matter of personal preference. If I should just get over it and deal with the situation, I would like to know that too!
    Last edited by hmilr19; 05-11-2020, 11:55 AM.

  • #2
    I can't address the specifics of NC law or local ordinances, but there sounds like an issue with trespassing, theft of services, and possible whatever form of disorderly conduct law NC may have.

    Given that your apartment complex is gated, trespassing should be a relatively easy charge. However, local LE may want the complex manager or owner to file the complaint on that, as it sounds like they're trespassing upon the common areas of the complex. The land that they're camped on may also be private property but, again, they would require the land owner to file a complaint as they are the victim.

    Since someone pays for the dumpsters to be emptied, using them without permission is considered theft of services in my area (your mileage may vary). Again, this may be an issue that local LE would want a complaint from the complex manager or owner, as I would assume that they actually pay the bills for the dumpster and pass the expense along to the renters so they would be the victims.

    The yelling/singling/loud talking may fall under state or local disorderly conduct statutes.

    Some localities have vagrancy and panhandling ordinances, but you would have to talk to the local PD to see if that applies.

    I highly recommend AGAINST going over and trying to "handle it" yourself. Homeless people are not usually homeless by choice...there's a high instance of drug addiction and mental health issues in homeless populations. Such people can be unpredictable because of their underlying issues.
    "He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you."
    -Friedrich Nietzsche

    Comment


    • hmilr19
      hmilr19 commented
      Editing a comment
      Great advice, thank you. You're right in that it will have to be handled by the complex manager, who I know pretty well. I'll be able to speak to him once the leasing office opens back up again.

  • #3
    Have you asked your city council what they are doing to address the issue?

    Comment


    • hmilr19
      hmilr19 commented
      Editing a comment
      I haven't, but that's a great first step.

  • #4
    If that happened where I worked, I would write them all citations that won't be paid and give them court dates that won't be honored. They would all eventually get warrants for failing to appear in court which won't be bookable into jail.

    Homelessness is a huge problem nationwide but largely isn't criminal. For the most part they have to be shooed away or their living environment made undesirable so they go somewhere else. Good luck, it's not a simple fix!

    Comment


    • hmilr19
      hmilr19 commented
      Editing a comment
      You're right - I know complaining that I feel unsafe is stereotyping the majority, but like you said, it isn't largely criminal. It hasn't been an issue thus far because they haven't been causing any real trouble. Thanks!

  • #5
    ^^^ 99% what he said. I'd bet a whole doughnut that half have warrants related to shoplifting and other minor crimes, plus failure to appear.

    They won't pay fines, won't go to court and won't be arrested on the warrants later... and even if they are, they will eventually get a PR bond and the cycle will repeat.

    This isn't a problem that law enforcement can solve.
    "I am a Soldier. I fight where I'm told and I win where I fight." -- GEN George S. Patton, Jr.

    "With a brother on my left and a sister on my right, we face…. We face what no one should face. We face, so no one else would face. We are in the face of Death." -- Holli Peet

    Comment


    • hmilr19
      hmilr19 commented
      Editing a comment
      Right you are. This may just be something us residents have to put up with in the long term.

    • tanksoldier
      tanksoldier commented
      Editing a comment
      Well, not necessarily that either. There are things your city council can do, but just going out and citing them all won't have much effect. Designating areas for homeless can allow sanitation and such to be provided, for example.

  • #6
    Camps get cleared out around here on occasion. Eventually homeless people make their way back to the same places. I wonder if you noticed the emptiness of the plot after a recent clearing and it is just filling back in. Seems once a plot is known to the homeless to be a decent place to set up, it will always fill back in, whether with the same people or different homeless people.

    Comment


    • #7
      Originally posted by hmilr19 View Post
      The intent of this post is simply to find out if there is anything illegal going on or at least something the police should be notified about. I don't claim to know too much about the law regarding homelessness and I ask these questions out of pure innocence and curiosity.

      Outside my apartment complex in Charlotte, NC, a homeless community has formed. There is an empty plot of land next to a storage facility across from the entrance of our complex. This land was empty when I moved in 2 months ago - March 2020. Steadily, over the course of 2 months, 25-30 tents have been constructed on the plot of land and the homeless have formed a community where they gather, dress/undress, and mingle around the storage facility building and around the entrance to the complex. Let me make this clear - they do not pose any known threats and I have not witnessed any illegal activity going on. However, I have noticed a few issues that may grow in the future.

      Firstly, we cannot park our cars outside of the complex because on multiple occasions cars have been broken into and things have been stolen. Second, the homeless people walk in and out of our complex even though it is a gated community. On several occasions, I have witness them walk in behind a car as a resident is opening a gate, take a stroll through the complex, and exit through a gate on the other side when they see a resident open it. Additionally, they speak to the residents, and on one occasion a homeless man asked me if I was the mail lady. There is a dirt path just outside of our parking lot fence in which they walk back and forth multiple times a day - my window looks directly onto this path and on multiple occasions I have been woken up in the middle of the night by them yelling, singing, talking loudly, and pushing grocery carts along this path.

      The biggest issue I see is that they use our garbage cans and dumpster. Yesterday at 9:00AM, I saw two people exit the homeless tent community with a grocery cart full of trash, walked into the entrance to our complex (gate is open when leasing office is open), to the dumpster, and emptied the contents of the cart. While going to my mailbox one day, I witnessed someone who was clearly homeless deposit a large bag of trash in our trash can next to the mailboxes.

      During this COVID-19 crisis, I am wondering if it is even okay to have a gathering of 25-30 people who've set up a makeshift community with tents and other belongings. Keep in mind that I am a young, single woman who lives alone and the point to getting this apartment was so that I would be able to walk to work/public transportation and save about a hundred dollars a month in parking. To get to public transportation, I have to walk past the community and under and overpass to get to the station. The homeless people often hang out underneath here.

      Is there something to be done about all of this? What specifically can I take action for? Is anything unlawful being done, or is it all legal and just "bad practices"? I feel unsafe in my own home, even though there have been no actual reports of something happening in this area. However, they are still new and I worry about the future of their numbers. If there is something to be done about this, please inform me on the best way possible to go about this situation. I do not want to bother any police force in the area if this is simple a matter of personal preference. If I should just get over it and deal with the situation, I would like to know that too!
      if nothing is done now, it's going to get worse. The trespassing incidents sound like they're testing the waters to see what they can get away with.

      You need to report this to the property manager, police etc.

      Comment


      • #8
        Originally posted by hmilr19 View Post
        The intent of this post is simply to find out if there is anything illegal going on or at least something the police should be notified about. I don't claim to know too much about the law regarding homelessness and I ask these questions out of pure innocence and curiosity.

        Outside my apartment complex in Charlotte, NC, a homeless community has formed. There is an empty plot of land next to a storage facility across from the entrance of our complex. This land was empty when I moved in 2 months ago - March 2020. Steadily, over the course of 2 months, 25-30 tents have been constructed on the plot of land and the homeless have formed a community where they gather, dress/undress, and mingle around the storage facility building and around the entrance to the complex. Let me make this clear - they do not pose any known threats and I have not witnessed any illegal activity going on. However, I have noticed a few issues that may grow in the future.

        Firstly, we cannot park our cars outside of the complex because on multiple occasions cars have been broken into and things have been stolen. Second, the homeless people walk in and out of our complex even though it is a gated community. On several occasions, I have witness them walk in behind a car as a resident is opening a gate, take a stroll through the complex, and exit through a gate on the other side when they see a resident open it. Additionally, they speak to the residents, and on one occasion a homeless man asked me if I was the mail lady. There is a dirt path just outside of our parking lot fence in which they walk back and forth multiple times a day - my window looks directly onto this path and on multiple occasions I have been woken up in the middle of the night by them yelling, singing, talking loudly, and pushing grocery carts along this path.

        The biggest issue I see is that they use our garbage cans and dumpster. Yesterday at 9:00AM, I saw two people exit the homeless tent community with a grocery cart full of trash, walked into the entrance to our complex (gate is open when leasing office is open), to the dumpster, and emptied the contents of the cart. While going to my mailbox one day, I witnessed someone who was clearly homeless deposit a large bag of trash in our trash can next to the mailboxes.

        During this COVID-19 crisis, I am wondering if it is even okay to have a gathering of 25-30 people who've set up a makeshift community with tents and other belongings. Keep in mind that I am a young, single woman who lives alone and the point to getting this apartment was so that I would be able to walk to work/public transportation and save about a hundred dollars a month in parking. To get to public transportation, I have to walk past the community and under and overpass to get to the station. The homeless people often hang out underneath here.

        Is there something to be done about all of this? What specifically can I take action for? Is anything unlawful being done, or is it all legal and just "bad practices"? I feel unsafe in my own home, even though there have been no actual reports of something happening in this area. However, they are still new and I worry about the future of their numbers. If there is something to be done about this, please inform me on the best way possible to go about this situation. I do not want to bother any police force in the area if this is simple a matter of personal preference. If I should just get over it and deal with the situation, I would like to know that too!
        Since this is an apartment complex and you are renter I would move as soon as possible. This needs to be dealt with by the Apartment complex. If people start moving out of the complex that may motivate them to take action. As renters move out the odds of finding new renters with a homeless encampment next door is very low.
        “Right now I'm having amnesia and déjà vu at the same time. I think I've forgotten this before.” - Steven Wright

        US Army MP (95B) 1992-1997
        DOJ Agent/ DHS Officer 1997 to Present

        Comment


        • #9
          Dude at least it seems like they are being some what respectful and taking care of their trash. Move, talk to the city code enforcement and see what can be done on them for finding the property owner (s). They can go after them to clean their property and secure it. It will take a process, since they will have to get bids to remove the homeless. And you have to allow the homeless ample time to collect crap and move.
          I'd rather be judged by 12 rather carried by 6.

          It should be noted that any and all post that are made are based on my own thought and opinions. And are not related or implied to represent the department I work for.

          Comment


          • #10
            Who owns the property where the camp is located? If it is privately owned the owners may enforce trespassing laws; if it is publicly owned the appropriate agency may step up. Just because a piece of real estate is not occupied does not mean it is open for grabs by anyone who chooses to set up housekeeping there.

            Your first point of contact should be the property manager of your complex. Spell out your concerns in writing and keep copies of all correspondence. Make it as clear as possible that you are paying rent for accommodations that are safe and secure. Let the property management company follow up with local cops, adjacent property owners, whoever needs to take appropriate action to maintain your safety and security in your home. There is no need to become personally involved, but you are paying rent to occupy a unit within a gated community and it is certainly reasonable to expect the people collecting your rent money to provide a reasonable level of safety and security in return.

            Comment


            • #11
              Link below relevant to the discussion. Your situation sucks, I don't know what the political leaning of charlotte, but if its anything like some of the west coast states you more than likely won't see anything done.

              https://nlchp.org/supreme-court-martin-v-boise/

              Comment


              • #12
                Be a bummer if an illegal fire got too big...
                Now go home and get your shine box!

                Comment

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