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DIGGING DEEPER: City steps in to help with homeless camp conflict

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TUCSON (KVOA) - For cyclists, the Aviation Bikeway serves as a corridor between the city's eastside, the University of Arizona and downtown.

Tucson police say it's also been one of the city's top ten spots for people experiencing homelessness.

"Usually, you start to see more camps pop up in that area, and they start to congregate in that area, so that's what happened there," Jacob Valenzuela of Tucson Police Department and the homeless outreach team said.

The Digging Deeper Team found community complaints about homeless camps along the Aviation Bikeway are nothing new.

But earlier this year, the situation seemed to be getting out of hand, then, as we told you back in April, the city issued a notice to vacate -- and started cleaning up several camps in the area.

"Based on the amount of people staying there, and the fact that there were some health issues, there were some living condition issues," Sargent Jack Julsing said. "There were some minor criminal issues, but it was enough that it was the totality of the circumstances dictated we needed to get a clean-up there because that was the right thing to do."

The strategy along the Aviation Bikeway appears to be working.

When the Digging Deeper Team first reported on the issues along the path two months ago, we found a camp set up right under the murphy overpass.

That area has since been cleaned up.

Though, one or two camps remain in other locations.

Most of the people that were living along the bikeway seem to have moved on.

"Homelessness is not a crime, it's just they're just down on their luck so we try to be as compassionate as we can," council member Richard Fimbres said.

TPD tells the Digging Deeper Team that they will continue to monitor homeless hotspots and work to get those without a stable place to live, connected with the resources they need.

"It's not just police, it's not just clean-up services, it's not just outreach," Julsing said. "If we all work together and we're on the same page, that gets the most done. And that's what we're trying to do."

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