Neighbors complain of seeing more homeless encampments along popular midtown trail

TULSA -- Neighbors in midtown are complaining that they're noticing more homeless encampments pop up along a popular trail. 

The Midland Valley Trail between 21st and 26th Streets is a busy area for joggers and cyclists, but neighbors, like Chris Fling, said they have seen more belongings left behind by homeless people in the area. 

"It kind of seems to be getting worse, actually," Fling said. 

He suspects that nearby construction for The Gathering Place for Tulsa may be making the problem worse. 

"The people that have no home, they have to have a place to go," Fling said. "When they're kind of rooted out of one place, they find another spot to go to." 

A neighbor fed up with seeing the mess snapped pictures this week of one encampment. The photos show clothes, bags and blankets scattered along one stretch of the trail. Another woman reported an encampment in the same area recently to Noe Rodriguez with the Mental Health Association Oklahoma. 

"We went out yesterday and didn't see anybody," Rodriguez said. "The clothes had been picked up, but somebody had a left a basket of food for them." 

Rodriguez works as the organization's homeless outreach and rapid response coordinator. When he responds to a report of an encampment, he said he tells the homeless people that they cannot stay there, and then works with them to connect them with resources. 

"If we can connect them to the right partner," Rodriguez said, "we can help them get off the streets and into a better place." 

In January volunteers cleared out a large homeless encampment next to the Arkansas River in south Tulsa, but, back in midtown, Fling said more needs to be done to keep the trail area clear. 

"None of us are happy that there are homeless people in town," he said, "but, if they are, living on this trail is not a good spot for them." 

To report a homeless encampment through the Mental Health Association Oklahoma's Street Outreach, visit this link

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