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DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Work on a huge Des Moines housing development is forcing homeless people out of longtime camps in a woody area and into more visible spots in the city’s downtown.

The Des Moines Register reports that Hubbell Realty Co. has begun clearing 75 acres in the city to make room for Gray’s Station, a development that will have more than 1,100 housing units, retails shops and offices.

“Whenever we’re on a site and encounter homeless people, we’re always very delicate and work to assist if a move was necessary,” said Joe Pietruszynski, Hubbell’s vice president of land development.

Christine Hensley, the downtown area’s representative on the Des Moines City Council, said she’s received numerous complaints about makeshift campsites and homeless individuals loitering near businesses.

“I know that we have a balance act with the homeless, but it seems to be out of balance right now, with more problems in the downtown … than what I’ve seen for quite a long time,” Hensley said.

The city has posted illegal occupancy notices at nine campsite locations. Public works crews will soon start clearing the sites if the homeless don’t vacate them. The city is considering issuing notices to seven other locations.

But Central Iowa Shelter & Services, which has more than 200 beds, is already full. There are 11 other emergency shelters in the area, but many have requirements that limit the people that can seek shelter there. Many homeless individuals aren’t sure where they’ll go.

“I have nowhere to go,” said Tiffany Shearon. “They say Des Moines is homeless-friendly, but it ain’t, to be honest. It ain’t.”

The city had previously not taken action on the homeless camped along the wooded greenways near the city’s rivers unless it receives complaints.


Information from: The Des Moines Register,