Homeless creating trash piles in east side neighborhood

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- City investigators say homeless people are to blame for piles of trash that keep showing up in one east side neighborhood.

Even cold conditions don't slow down illegal dumping near 23rd Street and Chelsea Avenue.

There's a lot of bulky garbage blocking the sidewalk, including a camper shell, a barbecue grill and a microwave oven.

Investigators say the house is owned by a homeless man.

It has no water, electricity or other utilities and is posted not to be occupied.

Neighbors who did not want to appear on camera for fear of retaliation tell FOX4 they see homeless people bring in garbage they've collected elsewhere and then discard what they can't sell in the yards.

The property has turned into one giant dumping ground, and it's surrounded by five other vacant or unoccupied houses, where the city has found evidence of squatters inside.

"This is what happens when you get a homeless situation that ends up in the middle of a neighborhood," Alan Ashurst said, an illegal dumping investigator.

"We’ve got homeless people coming from these two properties here, I know for sure. As they collect their stuff throughout the neighborhoods, out of people's properties, whoever they are acquiring these items from, they will bring them back here. They will break down whatever they can recycle, whatever they can use. Then they just throw the rest of it out on the street like this."

Ashurst said police have been called to the block five times so far this month, but haven't arrested anyone. He says the homeless are hard to identify, and surveillance cameras can't be placed on private property. He says ticketing the homeless for illegal dumping doesn't change their behavior.

In response to complaints and FOX4's inquiry, city crews are boarding up every window and doorway to the house Wednesday.

If they can't catch suspects in the act, at least they're going to try to make it harder for them to come and go as they please. Ashurst said anyone who sees activity around the homes should immediately call the police.

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