OGDEN, Utah — A group of community members in Ogden are hoping to find a temporary solution for the homeless community concerned about COVID-19 exposure in the homeless shelter.
During Tuesday night’s Ogden City Council meeting, members of the community are expected to bring up a potential solution which includes temporarily allowing camping outside on the Lantern House property which would be reviewed by the city council weekly.
In a Facebook post, community activist Angel Castillo asked for the community to speak during public comment Tuesday.
“Ask for city council to allow a TEMPORARY resolution allowing camping AT Lantern House." wrote Castillo.
"Nobody wants a permanent encampment (people want actual housing), but here we are and we need to manage this situation until people can safely stay IN Lantern House.”
As part of the proposed plan, the homeless encampment would need to be on the Lantern House’s property, include porta-potties and a hand washing station, increased emptying of trash and police presence, Castillo said. This would also be temporary, she emphasized.
The plan would need to be “renewed by city council each week until Lantern House has no active COVID cases and an alternative quarantine location with medical staff is arranged for Lantern House COVID-positive clients,” she said.
The homeless issue is being looked at by many different leaders in the Ogden area, a spokesperson for the city said.
In December, a homeless encampment cleanup near the Lantern House took place.
It wasn’t pretty to watch, one homeless man said to FOX13.
“They just came through and cleaned them all up again and where do you want these people to go?” he said.
Forcing people to only take the things they can carry, potentially leaving them without tents, sleeping bags and other things necessary for them to stay warm in the winter. It also pushes people away from resources can become very dangerous for the vulnerable homeless population, Castillo said.
“We don’t want people to be disbanded and freeze to death,” she said.
In a previous statement regarding the December clean-up, the city explained the reason for the operation which Ogden Mayor Mike Caldwell said the city has been doing in the area for over a year.
“Up to this point, Ogden City has taken a moderated approach during the pandemic. However, the situation has now become untenable,” the city said in a media release. “The size of the camp continues to grow, and the impact is being felt throughout the City. City crews are cleaning garbage and related debris regularly, exposing themselves to health risks as well as an occasional angry camp member.”
A spokesperson for the City of Ogden said it was on city council’s radar that the idea could be presented at the council meeting Tuesday. It won’t be an actional discussion at Tuesday’s meeting, but it could become something put on the agenda in the future if council decides, the spokesperson said.
CLICK HERE for more information on the CDC’s recommendations for homeless during the pandemic.
FOX 13 reached out to the Lantern House but did not hear back as of this report.