Homeless Concern In Longview - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News


Homeless Concern In Longview

Officials in Longview are worried about the well-being of those living in the streets, after a homeless man was found dead and the hardest part of winter  is coming. 

Officials say the Grace Creek bridge is frequently the makeshift home for Longview's homeless. Those without homes sleep on cardboard beds and light fires to keep warm.

Wednesday, a homeless man, 38 year old Samie Lewis Edwards, was found dead there of natural causes.

"He was a good friend.  He was 101st Airborne Army, served in Bosnia," said Edward's friend Ralph Pivonka.

Pivonka says he has not eaten in two days.  "I've been out here off and on about five years," he said.

They use  cardboard for bedding, and camp fires to keep warm.  A city ordinance prohibits camping inside city limits, and police try to enforce it.

"We try to go in and clear them out as often as we can.  The problem is they typically move from one place to the next.  So we really need the support of the community to try to get them into our shelters," said Longview Police Sgt. Ben Kemper.

"It's cold out here," said Pivonka.  "I'm 50 years old.  It's tough."     

He says his other homeless friends took off, when Edwards died, knowing the police would make them leave. He's hoping they'll return, so they can help him out.  "I'm hoping they'll come back or I might be next," he said.

Local shelters, like the Hiway 80 Rescue Mission are at capacity almost every night, but they want those without a home to come in.

"Our big concern is that the guys are comfortable coming in getting out of the cold so that we can give them some help," said Hiway 80 Rescue Mission worker J.R. Allgood.

Shelter workers estimate that at any given time, there are between 200 and 300 homeless people in Longview.

Bob Hallmark, Reporting.  bhallmark@kltv.com




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