OWENSBORO, Ky. (WEHT) – Homelessness is becoming more of an issue in some areas in Owensboro, leading police to once again break up their camps, especially at English Park along the riverfront.

“It’s all we’ve got, I mean, wherever else we go, people want to criticize, and we came down here as a community,” says Sarah, a homeless woman living along the riverfront.

OPD gave the following statement to Eyewitness News:

“The city has been maintaining the area and periodically utilizing equipment to remove debris. Officer did advise subjects they would need to leave the area,” says Dustin Evans, Public Information Officer for OPD.

Residents say that debris includes their possessions; and just want to be left alone and enjoy their own community. They say they have nowhere else to go, and they feel that they are being unfairly persecuted.

“This is how we are trying to build our ego up. We have been knocked down to the bottom of the food chain, and we want to build ourselves back up, and right now this is our comfort zone,” says Sarah.

The tightknit community says they share everything and consider each other family. The group says they have had difficulties getting housing for a variety of reasons, even with jobs. Experts say substance abuse and mental illness are extremely common in this demographic.

“We have these groups that just keep getting shuffled around, and we just move them from place to place without ever really addressing the root of the problems,” says Preston Middleton with Hope House.

Others have already left the riverfront at English Park, and are trying to figure out their next move. One man says that people shouldn’t be so quick to judge those struggling with homelessness.
“You got lives, you got people. You got people’s daughters, and sons, and uncles and cousins – like these are real live people, not trash,” says Terry, a man experiencing homelessness in Owensboro.

Their collective story has even brought out activists to make sure the severity of the situation is known.

“Whenever you go, and take what very little people have to their name, and you toss them like they’re nothing,” says Leslie, an Owensboro Native.

As the homelessness crisis continues to worsen, people are encouraged to seek help at a shelter to find out what resources are available.

“What we find a lot of times, these camps that come up, don’t even know that the shelters exist. They don’t know they can just walk in and get a bed,” says Harry Pedigo, of St. Benedict and Daniel Pitino homeless shelters.