Some of Sherman’s displaced homeless residents may soon have a temporary place to call home. Representatives with 903 Mindful said this week that they are working to acquire land where a temporary homeless camp can be set up until a more permanent solution to the city’s homeless situation can be found.
The move to find a place for the city’s homeless comes two weeks after the city took steps to dismantle an established camp in the woods near Peyton Street. Less than a week later, residents of another camp near the intersection of U.S. Highway 75 and U.S. Highway 82 were given notice of trespass and were given a week to leave the property.
“What we are going to try to do is see if we can get some military-style tents out there so they can be set up in units. There will be no blue tarps…that way no one can argue about the way it looks,” homeless advocate Christopher Creed said.
Creed has been working to acquire land along Dripping Springs Road. While he initially thought that he had worked out the details of purchasing the land, Creed said about half of the property is owned by someone who is deceased and is currently stuck as a part of an estate.
In the mean time, Creed said he is working with the known owners to arrange for a low-cost lease until final arrangements can be made.
The property is 55-foot by 1050-foot. Creed noted that the length of the property will allow him to place the camp far away from the road. Starting out, the camp would house about three residents, but it could potentially grow to about 6-7 for temporary housing.
Creed is working to acquire liability insurance for the property and plans to place a portable toilet for the camp. Issues that still need to be resolved include getting access to utilities like water and electricity.
Early conversations with the city have also been productive, he said.
“If these individuals are able to locate a private property owner who is willing to host them, and they abide by city ordinances regarding waste disposal, the city shouldn’t have a reason to interfere with their activities,” Sherman Community and Support Services Manager Nate Strauch said via email.
With action against the previous camps still in mind, Creed said organizers will need to put increased focus on minimizing the number of long-term residents at the camp and enforcing rules.
“We are going to have to really watch who we allow to be out there,” Creed said. “There are those out there who have been known to steal, who have been known to do drugs. We kinda know who needs the help severely, who wants the help, and who is going to try to use us.”
Early last week, city crews started demolition of the first homeless camp, which was home to an about a dozen residents in total. In addition to removing the camp, crews cleared the land of brush and undergrowth to remove what made the area attractive in the first place.
Creed said he expected the second camp to be cleared by Tuesday, but city officials did not arrive and the final residents spent what could be their last night at the camp. Two residents are still working to removed their property, while a third plans to remain at the site.
“We are trying to keep him busy because he is panicking,” Creed said. “He is not all there mentally. I have a feeling he will end up being arrested over this, to be honest. He is refusing to leave.”
In the long term, Creed said he is in talks with King’s Trail Cowboy Church in Whitewright about a piece of property that could be used to build tiny homes. Creed said the discussion are still early on.
“The pastor over there has the same idea, same dream,” he said.
Early on, Creed said plans call for moving individuals who have useful skill sets, including carpentry and construction, to the site to assist in building the first set of homes. Despite this, he expected the first set of about six homes to cost about $50,000.
“We have a lot of contractors that are going to volunteer their time so that will cut down the costs,” Creed said.