Newark’s homeless frequent Main Street, talk to students
Published: Monday, October 1, 2012
Updated: Monday, October 1, 2012 21:10
As temperatures drop, students can expect to see a slight increase in the number of homeless people around campus, specifically the libraries and other public buildings, according to University Police Chief Patrick Ogden.
“Most of our calls for service related to homeless individuals come from employees or students who are working in buildings within the UD campus, such as the Morris Library or occasionally an unoccupied classroom,” Ogden said. “These calls are few and far between, but they do increase as the weather gets colder.”
Despite the apparent increase in the number of homeless people around campus, there is no statistical data to back up the conclusion that the homeless population has increased in the last five years, according to Ogden. Ogden also said harassment complaints filed by students against homeless individuals are infrequent.
“If something like that occurred the suspect would be issued a trespass warning, which would prohibit him or her from entering onto university property in the future and, in addition, would likely be arrested,” Ogden said.
According to the Annual Crime Safety Report from the university’s Department of Public Safety, there were 23 incidents of trespassing from December 2011 to February 2012. It is unclear if any of those trespassers were homeless based on the report.
While records do not indicate an overall trend, some students, such as senior Beri Tata, said they have been in contact with the homeless on a somewhat regular basis.
“Earlier this week one homeless man approached me asking for money,” said Tata, who lives near Paper Mill Road. “My encounters with them mostly involve them asking me for some money.”
Senior Andrew Brooks said he often sees homeless people looking for cans. He said he once let a homeless man into his house to collect a large amount of cans that he and his roommates had not yet recycled.
“There were probably a thousand cans down there,” Brooks said. “While he was collecting them he was telling me about a camp he had set up in the woods in White Clay [Creek] Park. He seemed pretty happy.”
Senior Wade Naughton, who works at Yogoberry on Main Street, said a homeless woman came into the store last summer.
“[She] would just talk to herself and do fake interviews,” Naughton said. “She would also get up and dance to Nicki Minaj whenever it played on the radio in the store. My boss eventually told her not to come back.”
Many of the homeless are undisruptive and are simply looking for cans to return for the bottle deposit, along with other items that have been tossed aside, Ogden said.
“Our officers do not have daily encounters with homeless individuals, but when they do, these encounters are not generally confrontational,” Ogden said. “We always try to assist in finding them appropriate areas where food and shelter is available.”
Brooks said he has found this to be true and admits he is not uneasy around the homeless.
“I grew up in Washington, D.C., so I’m used to a different level of homelessness,” Brooks said of his hometown, which has the fifth largest homeless population in the nation, according to the DCentric organization.
Brooks said while the homeless man was in his basement, he dropped his Ray-Ban sunglasses into one of the bags he was filling with cans. He said the man pulled them out and handed them back to Brooks right away.