PROVO, Utah – Since the enactment of anti-pan-handling laws at the beginning of the year, Provo has watched its homeless population grow. The increase in homeless people has police working to ban homeless camping.
The Provo Police Department said it’s working with the City Council to develop an ordinance that will make it illegal to camp on public property within the city limits. Their goal is to push more homeless people to get mental health assistance. Police said they often come across people who refuse to get any type of counseling.
“It’s heartbreaking to do nothing but stand by and watch someone spiral into that cycle and die,” said Provo Police Sergeant Brian Taylor.
The Police Department also said the ordinance is necessary because business owners are complaining about the homeless in front of their stores. Some business owners, however, feel it is their job to take care of them.
“I remember one day I just told one of those guys, like ‘Just come in and stay here’ cause it was so cold. Like it was freezing outside,” said Fruta Crush owner Meriam.
Despite efforts, some homeless said they still feel they aren’t getting enough help from the government. Marty Merret, one of Provo’s homeless, said that due to the lack of government assistance, things will only get worse in the coming years.
“(Homelessness will) be a serious problem in the next three to five years. God help us all,” Merret said.
The Police Department has partnered with Wasatch Mental Healthcare, which stands ready to receive the homeless in need of assistance.
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