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Homeless camp cleaned up on the city's west side

Marijuana plants, needles and other drug paraphernailia were found in a drainage ditch.

SAN ANTONIO — A west side homeless camp right next to a neighborhood was cleared out by city employees Friday, but it was what they found that has some local leades concerned—marijuana plants, drug paraphernalia and needles, all of which came close to spilling into San Antonio rivers. 

"At night you can sit out here...not even a whisper. It's really quiet," said Arnold Bara, who has lived in a neighborhood by the 7000 block of Marbach Road for 23 years. 

He says he wasn't that surprised about the homeless camp just a few hundred yards away. 

"I'm not against the homeless," he said, "but I wouldn't want them in the area because you don't know what kind of people they are."

District 6 City Councilwoman Melissa Cebello Havrda told us, "They are living there for years in some cases and they acquire a lot of things, so especially when it's near a neighborhood it can be not just dangerous but it can be a nuisance to some of the neighbors that live in the area."

The main problem with this camp: It was right next to and in a drainage channel, and full of items that just weren't safe. 

"The concern when we came out, we started noticing the needles were coming out, we saw some pipes, some paraphernalia, so we get concerned (about) what's going into our rivers," said Nancy Williams, manager for San Antonio Homeless Services Special Projects.

The city says the six or seven people who used the encampment were given about 48 hours notice about the cleanup, but only three were there when San Antonio Police, Transportation and Capital Improvements, and SAMMinistries came to offer assistance. 

"We do give them an opportunity to let them know, 'Hey, we are going to come on Friday, we are going to clean out the area, so do you want help? Do you want some assistance?'" Havrda said. 

According to Williams, those who wish not to accept the help of city services are allowed to collect their personal item while still on site. 

One woman did accept help through SAMMinistries, so she'll be working with them, but the other two just walked away. Havrda said anyone can report homeless camps anonymously by calling 3-1-1. But if you feel it is an immediate threat or a dangerous situation for you, call 9-1-1. 

Across the state, more help is coming to homeless programs. Secretary Ben Carson announced over $100 million in grants to support homeless assistance programs in Texas. These grants are part of a total of $2.2 billion that was awarded nationally under HUD's Continuum of Care grants to provide critically needed support to approximately 6,593 local programs that serve individuals and families experiencing homelessness.

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