RCSD plans to destroy homeless camp near Forest Acres
COLUMBIA, SC (WOLO) — A large homeless camp identified by the Richland County Sheriff’s Department will soon be no more.
Friday, the department will oversee cleanup of a private property where it believes many individuals were staying and committing crimes.
“What you see behind me is a part of Columbia that a lot of people don’t see,” said Sheriff Leon Lott of the Richland County Sheriff’s Department.
Right off of Old Forest Drive and near the exit for Interstate 77, Richland County Sheriff’s Department identified a homeless camp on private property.
“This is a typical homeless camp. This is how they create it and what they leave,” Lott said. “We have now been able to remove the homeless people from here but you can see that this property is pretty much destroyed. If anybody wanted to come here and buy it, this is what they’d walk in and see.”
Needles and other drug paraphernalia, clothes, diapers, lots of beer cans and other trash litter the woods.
“The property owner has asked for help. We’re going to help him,” the sheriff said. “This City of Columbia Fire Department has responded here many times. The fire station is right across the road. They’ve had to come here because the homeless have set the woods on fire.”
Sheriff Lott says crime increases in areas where homeless camps have been identified in Richland County.
He says there are resources available for the homeless people in Columbia to access rather than living in the woods.
“I’m glad that the City of Columbia and Richland County are looking at different programs now to try to get the homeless off the streets, out of the woods, stop them from committing crimes and what you see here,” Lott said.
Out here in the woods, Richland County Sheriff’s Department will begin cleanup work Friday morning. The goal is to deter individuals from returning.
“We’re going to make it where it’s not suitable for them to set up a homeless camp. This is not the only one in Richland County. There are others. We’ve got them identified and we’re going to do the same thing,” Lott said. “We’re working with property owners to destroy these homeless camps so we can reduce crime in the area and get help for these homeless people.”
No charges have been filed against the individuals who were living on the property.