Houston police yesterday rousted dozens of homeless men and women from about 10 well-known encampments in a sweep spurred partly by complaints from businesses and residents, the Houston Chronicle reports. Officers asked people to leave locations where they had spent the night: around soup kitchens, vacant parking lots, and bridges. Officers gave homeless advocates and aid organizations advanced notice of the sweep, brought representatives of such groups along. Officials said the goal was to help the homeless and not just move them out.
The effort was part of a continuing, comprehensive homeless program delayed since August as the city dealt with the aftermath of hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Police plan to conduct similar operations every few months to prevent downtown camping, which can be trespassing or a violation of the city’s civility ordinance. The sweep was good news for Isaac Machen, who manages a local business. He complained about the human waste he has to clean up each morning from outside his shop. “It’s just terrible, man,” he said. “Over a period of time, these people lose respect for the law.”