HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — A coalition of groups continued efforts in Huntington Thursday to decrease the number of homeless residents.

Photo courtesy WSAZ-TV

Huntington city workers were among those cleaning out the homeless camps Thursday.

Representatives of several agencies and the City of Huntington worked to dismantle makeshift homes along the Ohio River from Harris Riverfront Park and 23rd Street West.

The homeless were told in recent weeks that they needed to get permanent housing by Sept. 1, Huntington spokesman Bryan Chambers said.

“This has been a very coordinated effort to try to get people who are living along the Ohio River indoors before the winter hits,” Chambers said during an appearance on MetroNews “Talkline” Thursday.

Chambers said there’s evidence the efforts are already working.

“About three weeks ago when we began reaching out to these individuals there were approximately 40 or so people living in a 30-block stretch along the river. Today there are about six,” Chambers said.

Crews dismantled tarps, lean to’s and other crude structures that some have used for shelters. There also controlled burns to get rid of some of the debris.

Some of residents have substance abuse problems and other issues that could keep them out of shelters but the different agencies are working with them, Chambers said.

“All of these services that were are providing–it is as very comprehensive range of services and it will address those issues,” Chambers said.

The Cabell-Huntington Coalition for the Homeless recently authorized an increase in the amount of rapid rehousing assistance.

“The Continuum of Care and the Coalition for the Homeless appreciate the partnerships in our community to address homelessness,” Amanda Coleman, executive director of the Cabell-Huntington Coalition for the Homeless, said in a news release. “We have a great relationship with the Huntington Police Department, which enables us to prevent the criminalization of homelessness.

“The Mayor’s Office has also been extremely helpful in the provision of resources for this effort and has emphasized the necessity of compassion when it comes to those experiencing homelessness.”

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