This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

INDIANAPOLIS — An IMPD officer told me to look out for used syringes on the ground of a homeless encampment cleaned up by the Indiana Department of Transportation on its right-of-way along the on-ramp from Raymond Street to southbound I-65 today.

Dozens of homeless persons were advised Tuesday that by 9 a.m. today their camp would be no more.

“There were a total of 43 people living here in tents,” said Elder Coleman of Refuge Place. “We would provide meals in the evening time and bring supplies to keep them warm.”

INDOT spokeswoman Mallory Duncan said such encampments along highways and under bridges pose a hazard to state employees as well as the campers.

“It’s mostly when they’re on our right-of-way and for safety we have to perform maintenance operations on all of our infrastructures. At this point the camp was encroaching upon our maintenance team being able to do that,” she said. “When we can’t get under our infrastructure and we can’t plow snow and try to push snow off in other places, it’s then a safety hazard for anyone in the vicinity.”

IMPD said it was aware of overdoses and drug activity at the site. Even the residents who salvaged their worldly goods while other items were tossed in a dumpster admitted the camp was a hazard.

“There were people yelling at all hours of the night. I didn’t feel comfortable sleeping here,” said Richard Bray, who recently put out a fire in another man’s tent. “It needs to be cleaned up. It needs to be addressed and it’s gonna just move people from one spot to another and they need help.”

Horizon House partnered with IMPD, State Police and INDOT to provide emergency shelter for the displaced residents.

“It’s dangerous,” said Johnnie Brown, who was intent on saving what few possessions she had including a camp toilet seat. “It’s nasty. I can’t even have my son come and visit me for five minutes because there’s needles uncapped or somebody shooting up.”

Brown said “bad decisions” regarding men and housing led her to live outside for the last four months, and her fondest dream is to get a job and afford an apartment where she could be reunited again with her children.

One neighbor on East Tabor Street who claimed a man from the camp recently tried to get into his house told me he was glad to see the encampment cleared.

“They gawked at us. ‘You nasty people, get out of our neighborhood!’” Brown said the neighbors would often yell at the homeless residents at the end of their street. “Not all of us is nasty. Not all of us is drug users. Some people don’t have no choice but to live what they live.”