Trash buildup at homeless camp near I-540 results in calls for cleanup

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Some homelessness in our area occurs in the shadows. But the sun is shining on a situation developing off Interstate 540 and Capitol Boulevard, and prompting people to call for action.

An ocean of trash and other debris can be seen in the woods from I-540 and Capitol Boulevard.

"We're not worried about the people that have to live outside. We're worried about the garbage," said Kim Crawford of the Wake Partnership to End & Prevent Homelessness. "We're worried about the look! What can we do to today help those people? I'm grateful that the situation is being raised to the level that it is. I am appalled at why."

It's an area that's not technically within Raleigh city limits, so the city's spokesperson said NCDOT has jurisdiction.

Stories about the situation and the complaints, published earlier by our newsgathering partners at the News & Observer, cited this emailed response from NCDOT spokesman Marty Homan: "Some of our staff have viewed the site from a distance and confirmed there are multiple tents and many shopping carts at the site. But no immediate safety risk to the public has been noted or reported to date."

Coronavirus concerns are another reason for hesitancy when people ask why the area has not been cleared by authorities.

"We have to make sure that we bring everybody with us. We're only as good as those who are actually having to live outside," said Crawford.

Crawford's proposed solution, inspired by the government's response to homelessness at the start of the pandemic: "Wake County immediately brought hotels on, to help those people stay social distanced and get those people off the streets. Those things are sunsetting right now, so more and more people are being pushed out onto the streets. There are options. There are things that we can do, pure and simple. We already demonstrated that! So let's look at where are the vacancies? How can other businesses, hotels, property owners, help us? We have to look at the affordability of our apartments. Building bricks and mortar doesn't help us today."
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