Homeless Camp Cleanup Comes at a Cost

As Wheeling’s unhoused population locates to an exempted camp near the maintenance trail along Wheeling Creek, City officials are eyeing the cost of previous camp cleanups which is coming in just below $90,000 for a seven-month period.

According to data compiled by the City Manager’s office, taxpayers were on the hook for $87,846.11 between the months of September 2023 and April 2024, which includes the cleanup of individual camp sites that existed prior to and after the passage of the City’s ordinance that bans camping on public property. The majority of these sites were along Heritage Trail, on Wheeling Island, in East Wheeling near the Nelson Jordan Center, the King’s Daughters Child Care Center, the Wheeling Central Gymnasium and in Fulton. All clean ups occurred after a minimum of 14 days notice of the pending cleanups. The cost also includes the damages at the first exempted camp site on 18th Street. 

Currently, with the exception of the exempted site on the Maintenance Trail, there are no active sites/camps on public property in the City.

According to information from the Northern Panhandle Continuum of Care (CoC), the current total for Ohio County’s Point-In-Time (PIT) preliminary count is 125. Of those, 88 were believed to be associated with outdoor homelessness. The Point-in-Time Count is a count of sheltered and unsheltered people experiencing homelessness on a single night in January. The data submission for counties to be able to enter data was extended until May 7. The complete data will be available from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in November.

HUD requires that CoCs conduct an annual count of people experiencing homelessness who are sheltered in emergency shelter, transitional housing and Safe Havens on a single night. CoCs also must conduct a count of unsheltered people experiencing homelessness every other year (odd numbered years). Each count is planned, coordinated and carried out locally.

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