BELOIT, Wis. (WTVO) — Homelessness has always been an issue in Beloit, but lately, neighbors say the issue is getting out of control, with rampant panhandling and theft.
“We do, unfortunately, have a lot of homeless folks in this city,” said Officer Isaac Asche. “It’s unfortunate. We do our best to help.”
One Beloit homeowner says she has seen a large increase in the number of people living on the streets this year, and some of them have been causing an issue in her neighborhood.
“I’ve seen them twice as much as last summer,” said nearby homeowner, Ashley Doty. “Last summer, I still saw [the homeless] around, and there was quite a few of them, but they weren’t as bold, and there weren’t as many.”
James King and his girlfriend are homeless. They live in a camp off Park Avenue in Beloit. She was wanted by police for drug offenses and was arrested on Thursday.
Doty said the couple cause issues for her neighborhood.
“The fact that he’ll go up to people while they’re sitting at the light, that’s pretty bold, and puts people in a position where, if they say no, then I’m this mean person, and they’ll give them money that they wouldn’t normally give them,” Doty said.
Another neighbor captured King on his surveillance video, stealing a light from her yard.
“I did speak with them and I told them the reason I did it, and I apologized,” King said. “I needed a light for camp.”
There are programs and shelters for those living on the streets who need help, Beloit Police say.
“Especially in the wintertime, we have care packages that we — blankets and things like that — that we try to distribute as much as we can,” Asche said.
Julie O’Leary, at Sparrow’s Nest Homeless Shelter, 1816 Harrison Ave, says those in need can visit the shelter, but she said she believes Beloit needs more facilities. O’Leary says Sparrow’s Nest can only house ten people, at most.