Joplin residents voice concerns about 'tent city neighbors' - KOAM TV 7

Joplin residents voice concerns about 'tent city neighbors'


Outsiders take advantage of tornado relief services.

A Joplin resident opens his property for displaced storm survivors.  Many families pitch tents as they wait for permanent housing.

Almost 20 families reside in tents near Shoal creek, but one resident who lives nearby is concerned and says there are some who are not only taking advantage, but causing problems.

"There are homeless people from Chicago, Arkansas, Colorado, Oregon that were coming here and living," says concerned resident Suzette Henderson.

Joplin residents Suzette and Austin Henderson never imagined waking up to a city of tents across the street from their home.

"One evening about 12:30 at night, there were a few police officers out there, fire truck, ambulance, so Austin went out to see what was going on, we saw a gentleman in our driveway we thought was a police officer and it ended up being a minor boy trying to hide from the police because he had been drinking," says Henderson.

And with the new neighbors comes a large amount of issues.

"We have received complains from residents down there, of all the people living in the tents, our department has a sign for our special enforcement bureau to investigate what is going on down there and come up with a solution," says JPD Corporal John Hollingsworth.

Police usually patrol Shoul creek especially on weekends because it is a visitor hot spot, a place for families to enjoy the water and the sun during the day, now turns into a party at night. 
Residents are raising the question whether or not the people living on this property are tornado victims or just abusing the privileges.

Volunteers often help out those living in tents, bringing food and cleaning up trash.

"They are using I'm assuming supplies that were meant for the tornado victims that people donated for them to use," says Henderson.

While she's sympathetic towards tornado victims, Henderson can't help but wonder who exactly is living on that private property.

Joplin police say there have been more complaints than usual near this area of Shoul creek:    loud noise, fights, drinking and a tent catching fire.

Police say they will continue to monitor the area.

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