New Haven homeless camps causing concern for nearby residents

NEW HAVEN --  Despite the City of New Haven clearing out a large homeless encampment near Wilbur Cross High School and the Cedar Hill neighborhood last December, homeless folks are occupying the area again.

The homeless encampments between State Street and East Rock Park, along the Mill River, are nowhere near as prominent as they were last winter. But, they are causing a stir.

"When you have constituents that are calling you and kayaking and coming across a homeless encampment it kind of freaks them out," said Ann Festa, a New Haven Alder.

In the neighborhood that borders East Rock Park and the Mill River, residents are keeping a close eye on the situation.

"The only concern I have is our children in the neighborhood," said Doreen Cappiello, a 58-year resident of the neighborhood. "You know, you're afraid that maybe they might lure them into the woods. You don't know if there are any kind of drugs."

"They don't bother me," said resident Karen Williams. "The only time that I see them is when they're on the street begging for money or something like that. But, I guess they have to have somewhere to live."

And that is the city's challenge.

"There are not enough beds in our shelters," said Festa. "We don't have couples shelters."

Beyond these homeless encampments is Rice Field, where neighboring Wilbur Cross High School conducts soccer practices, making for interesting times when players retrieve balls in the woods.

"They were caught by surprise and a little freaked out with what they saw," said Festa. "They saw a big blue tarp and clothes hanging."

Within the next couple of weeks, the occupants of these sites will be given an ultimatum.