Busby’s journey: Unsheltered homelessness is soaring in Omaha. Can one man and his dog find refuge?

The number of people living unsheltered and homeless in Omaha has skyrocketed in the past decade, a bigger jump than almost any major U.S. city. Outreach workers can’t help all of them. But can they change the life trajectory of Roland Busby?

Roland Busby lifted the blue plastic and peered from the darkness. His brown eyes adjusted to the overcast morning as he climbed out of his tent and through the tarps tied to skinny trees. Coats, sweaters and mud-caked boots covered his 5-foot-7-inch frame. He wore an eye pendant necklace to dispel evil and carried a tattered paperback promising ancient wisdom.

“The truth is that the universe has been answering you all of your life,” the book reads, “but you cannot receive the answers unless you are awake.”

Capone, a brown and white pitbull mix, trotted to Busby’s side as others milled around the buckets, shopping carts and tents covering the packed earth.

By late February, Busby, 33, and about 10 others had lived for a few months in this makeshift homeless camp in these sparse woods where Decatur Street dead-ends off North 40th Street. 

Before that he’d lived in other camps, an abandoned house, a friend’s place and, years ago, an apartment he rented where his daughter could visit him. That was before COVID-19, before he lost his job, car, apartment. Before he became one of the Omaha area’s rising unsheltered homeless population. 

In the last decade the number of people in Douglas, Sarpy and Pottawatomie counties living outside has increased nearly eightfold — the third-highest rise in that time period among major U.S. cities, according to a national one-night count done every January. 

Put into context, that eight-fold increase may not seem as dramatic. The Omaha area’s overall homeless population – both people living in shelters and in makeshift camps like on Decatur Street, has actually dipped in the past decade. And it remains one of the smallest among U.S. major cities, nearly a seventh of Denver’s. 

Capone, a brown and white pitbull mix, lays on the ground of a homeless encampment near 40th and Decatur streets on Feb. 22, 2024.
Capone, a brown and white pitbull mix, lays on the ground of a homeless encampment near 40th and Decatur streets on Feb. 22, 2024. His owner, Roland Busby, has lived on and off in this camp for nearly a year with others. Busby lost his job, got evicted and became one of Omaha’s rising unsheltered homeless population. Now, with help, he’s struggling to get back inside.
Roland Busby stands in a homeless camp near 42nd and Seward streets on May 7, 2024. Photos by Abiola Kosoko for the Flatwater Free Press

But there are many more Omahans like Busby living under bridges and inside wooded areas, sleeping in cars and on sidewalks. Some avoid shelters for fear of having things stolen, being attacked or because, like Busby, they don’t want to leave a pet, say the case managers, outreach workers, neighbors, law enforcement officers, experts, health professionals and others interviewed for this story. Some believe the problem hasn’t gotten that much worse – the counters are just better at locating people.

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Others, like Douglas County Sheriff Aaron Hanson, believe allowing the growth of camps enables dangerous behaviors that should be met with increased criminal consequences. Those could land people in the Douglas County jail which already spends about $1 million every month to house homeless people or those who might lose their housing as a result of their incarceration.

Meanwhile two employees in the mayor’s office work with up to 30 people who provide a variety of on-the-ground services. Weekly calls, which include police, parks, public works and other city employees, focus on camps and whether they’re causing problems.

Mike Fletcher, a street outreach specialist with Together Inc., withholds some information in those meetings – like the location of Busby’s camp. The longer it’s undetected, the less likely it will be cleared. That keeps paperwork for housing, jobs and health care safe from being lost, stolen or thrown away.

“It almost resets our progress,” Fletcher said. “I got you your social (security card), birth certificate and ID and now I have to start over from scratch.”

Mike Fletcher (left) and Roland Busby (right) talk near Busby’s tent in a homeless encampment near 40th and Decatur streets on Feb. 22, 2024. Fletcher, a street outreach specialist at Together Inc., started working with Busby, who struggles with chronic and unsheltered homeless, in October. Photo by Abiola Kosoko for the Flatwater Free Press

But camps also pose problems. A neighbor near the Decatur Street camp said she’d seen people wander through her backyard, fight and break into houses. She wants to be patient, she said. She just wishes this camp wasn’t next to her.

Tamara Dwyer, who leads the city’s homelessness services, is attempting to thread the needle between angry neighbors and best-practice solutions.

“What we’ve done for years is move people around that were sleeping outside,” Dwyer said. “That hasn’t helped and it usually makes someone’s homelessness last longer … So if we can try to have a more informed response, I mean, we might as well try that.” 

That still leaves a lot of work for Fletcher and Busby, who’s considered chronically homeless because he’s been unhoused for more than 12 months over three years. Chronic homelessness, also on the rise in Omaha, is a tougher cycle to break. It can be fueled by addiction, mental health, disability and distrust in the housing system.

But Fletcher believed in Busby. He didn’t seem to use drugs or alcohol. His mental health appeared stable. He’s a military veteran, which would open doors once he got his paperwork and faced two old warrants.

Fletcher knew there would be curveballs and setbacks. But the life he saw for Busby – housing, a job, his daughter – felt tantalizingly within reach. Fletcher knows he won’t change the lives of all 205 unsheltered homeless. But maybe he could help get one man and his pet pitbull a home.

’Make It Positive’

Things fell apart for Roland Busby when the Old Chicago closed.

He was working at the chain restaurant’s 78th Street location when COVID-19 struck. The restaurant shuttered temporarily, then for good. When Busby lost his job, he got behind on his car payment. Then his car broke down. His bills piled up. He was evicted in November 2021.

It was the latest shock for Busby, who grew up in North Omaha and attended Roncalli Catholic High School. In 2017 his mom died of cancer, he said. He tucked her ashes between the plastic sheets of a Pokémon card binder. A year later his daughter Taraji was born.

He had worked cooking jobs since leaving the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves in 2014 and dreamt of opening his own business. Then came the eviction and the failed attempt to couch surf before he became unsheltered and homeless by 2022.

There were bright moments. He found an 8-week old puppy, which he named Capone, as well as an abandoned home near Saddle Creek Road.

When Wendy Pecoraro arrived there in the summer of 2023, she was impressed by the garden of purple sage, lavender, tomatoes and corn Busby planted. But his knee – bright red and ballooned from an infection – concerned her more. 

Pecoraro, a nurse practitioner and co-founder of the street medicine nonprofit HEAL Omaha, said that, left untreated, the infection would likely eat tissue, reach bone and prompt the amputation of Busby’s leg. 

Busby remembered incredible pain as Nebraska Medicine doctors lanced, drained and treated his knee. He FaceTimed his daughter, though, their first talk in years.

Homeless patients are common in the emergency room, said Dr. Dalton Nelsen, an attending physician in Nebraska Medicine’s ER. They come to fill prescriptions, manage chronic ailments or rest in an empty bed or chair.  On the street, Pecoraro often treats heat exhaustion, frostbite and trench foot, but there’s no typical case – one man she works with has brain cancer.

Unsheltered homelessness is bad for your health, reducing average life expectancy by 17.5 years, one study found. 

It’s also expensive. Nebraska Medicine doesn’t track whether a patient is homeless, but spent nearly $70 million on uncompensated care in 2022. A national study found people facing housing instability cost the U.S. health care system $9.3 billion between 2017 and 2019.

“If our patients can’t pay, they can’t pay,” Nelsen said. “But we still see them, treat them and do all the right things for them no matter what.”

Not long after Busby returned to the abandoned house from the hospital, the police showed up. He got two tickets, one in June and another in July, for trespassing. Those turned into warrants when he didn’t show up to court in August.

Then the home burned down in September. By fall he was living in the woods near 42nd and Seward streets. When police cleared that, he and a few others migrated to the Decatur Street makeshift camp where they endured a January cold snap of sub-zero temperatures.

The job. The car. The cops. His mother. Busby tries not to think about what’s gone wrong.

“Man, the universe gives you exactly what you’re thinking about,” he said. “So make it positive.”

‘Society Needs The Safety Net’

Busby sat statue-still in the pew.

He’d just passed through the metal detectors of the Douglas County Courthouse, walked through its marble rotunda and entered this courtroom on March 8, where he would learn his fate.

The maximum penalty for each of his warrants: a $500 fine and six months in jail. His caseworker Fletcher prepped for this, calling friends, coworkers and an alpaca farm outside Omaha, before finding someone who agreed to take Capone if Busby went to jail.

The judge called Busby forward. He asked if Busby understood his rights. 

“Yes,” Busby said.

“Do you understand those charges?” asked Douglas County Judge Grant Forsberg after reciting the allegations.

“Yes, sir.”

About 20% of the Douglas County jail’s population are either homeless or facing housing instability, said Mike Myers, its director. It costs about $132 a day to jail someone, he said, meaning the county is likely spending nearly $1 million a month to house homeless or nearly homeless people. Those costs are climbing, he said.

“The health issues, the mental health issues, the acuity levels, the resources we expend on our most problematic folks seems to have escalated,” Myers said.

Interactions with the criminal justice system are common for homeless people. They get charged with trespassing, panhandling, intoxication, theft or creating a disturbance. The Omaha Police Department doesn’t track if someone they meet is homeless, but many are arrested, fined or jailed, which can imperil housing and future job searches.

Hanson, the sheriff, sees incarceration, or the threat of it, as Omaha’s best tool in addressing homelessness. He recently lobbied the Nebraska Legislature to make sleeping outside in undesignated places punishable by up to three months in jail and a $500 fine.

“Society needs the safety net that is the criminal justice system for those extreme cases,” he said. “Does that mean that we want to arrest our way out of this problem? Absolutely not. But the criminal justice system does provide additional options.”

Hanson said giving people tents and other supplies only enables encampments which are dangerous to people in them as well as nearby residents. 

Steve Glandt, a former captain for the Douglas County Sheriff, agrees – even though his daughter is homeless and unsheltered. Glandt has paid her rent and car bills to keep her afloat. It hasn’t helped. Recently he got a call that she was charged with possessing meth and headed to jail.

“At least we knew she was in a location that was giving her a bed and a toilet instead of the gutter,” Glandt said.

On this March day, Busby got good news: He wouldn’t have to go to jail. Prosecutors said if he pleaded guilty they would dismiss the warrants and charge a $150 fine.

The judge asked Busby if he was working full time.

“No sir, I’m homeless,” Busby said.

He could volunteer through a United Way program to work off his fees, the judge said.

Fletcher and Busby beamed as they left court. Housing seemed closer than ever.

Ticking Clocks

The signs popped up in late March, taped to nearby trees, warning people to vacate the woods of the Decatur Street camp. 

Usually once notices are posted, city employees will clear the camp a week later, Fletcher said. 

A broken clock hangs from a tree at the heart of a homeless encampment near 40th and Decatur streets. Photo by Abiola Kosoko for the Flatwater Free Press

But a week came and went. Then another. Then another. The Omaha Municipal Land Bank, a city agency that collects and sells blighted properties, had sold the land. It seemed the new owner was in no rush to clear it.

Still, many campers packed and left. Others replaced them.

One day Fletcher showed up at the camp, excited to find Busby and discuss moving to an apartment available for him soon. But Busby and Capone had vanished. No one knew where they’d gone. 

The disappearance frustrated Fletcher, because if you’re in Busby’s financial situation, finding housing is hard – and getting even harder. 

Competition is fierce. Omaha has a low rental vacancy rate, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Costs are up. Renting a below-average studio apartment is $300 more per month today than it was 10 years ago, according to federal data. 

Demand is building. Omaha needs to add 80,000 units by 2040 to keep up with population growth, according to an 2021 Omaha Community Foundation report. 

More than 4,700 people were on the Omaha Housing Authority’s waitlist for 2,491 units in late February, according to data provided by OHA. The agency’s housing voucher program, which helps about 4,000 people pay rent, has a wait time that can stretch to four years. 

In 2022, Dwyer took over Omaha’s homeless response with the goal of bridging the housing gap, and many others, in the community. It’s beginning to work, said many interviewed for this story, who say that having a point person in Mayor Jean Stothert’s office adds a level of leadership and coordination Omaha long lacked. 

“I’m not going to have the same goal as the parks department, or (the Omaha Police Department) or the fire department,” Dwyer said, “but we can work together.”

Omaha has the tools to end homelessness, said Jason Feldhaus, executive director of Threshold Continuum of Care, which oversees homelessness work across the metro. Getting everyone on the same page is a powerful one.

“We’re a big city,” he said, “but we’re not so big we can’t wrap our hands around the problems we have.”

The Milwaukee model

Some cities, like Milwaukee, have found effective ways to help people experiencing homelessness. In 2022 it had the lowest count of unsheltered homeless people in the nation, a 92% reduction since 2015. 

In Milwaukee homelessness, public housing, behavioral health and other services all run through county government, said James Mathy, the county’s housing administrator. That streamlines planning, communication and collaboration. 

It’s also led to innovative solutions, like creating a network of landlords willing to rent to homeless people, adding to a portfolio of housing options across the city and into the suburbs.

As homeless counts have decreased, so have interactions with police, health care and other institutions, which saves money.

Their need for mental health services decreased 89% once they were housed which saved $714,600, according to data from 2017 that Milwaukee county shared. One man the county followed named Paul accessed the emergency room 105 times in the 90 days prior to being housed. He needed it one time once he got into housing.

Nearly every resident had a municipal citation in the year prior to being housed, the data also shows. Only 9% received one the following year when they were housed. Interactions with the criminal justice system can become very expensive as Milwaukee estimated after taxpayers pay the police, public defender, county attorney and jail, they’re looking at a $7,040 bill on a fine that will never be paid.

It’s not easy, but it is effective and Mathy said there’s no reason Omaha couldn’t borrow their ideas.

‘Come to Jesus’

The woods off Decatur Street had come to life by April 9. Buds sprouted from branches hanging above the tents and trash. 

Busby ended up disappearing only a few days in mid-March. He’d tried another camping spot but also found signs there warning against camping. On April 5, Fletcher got him moved into an apartment.

Yet, four days later, Busby was here, standing by his tent at the Decatur Street camp and eating a chicken sandwich with Capone by his side.

“Roland, we have to have a come to Jesus (talk),” said Allison McElderry, another Together Inc. street outreach specialist, as she marched toward his tent. “You were here all weekend. You didn’t make curfew.”

Roland Busby and his dog Capone stand in a homeless camp near 42nd and Seward streets on May 7, 2024. After living unsheltered for the past few years, Busby moved into an apartment on April 5. It didn’t last. After living there a few weeks, his caseworker found him living in the woods again, putting Busby’s housing in serious jeopardy. Photo by Abiola Kosoko for the Flatwater Free Press

Bubsy’s grin slumped. He dropped the half-eaten sandwich into Capone’s drooling mouth. 

I lost my key, Busby told her. I couldn’t call anyone because I don’t have a phone. 

I was looking for my mom’s ashes, he said, but they’re gone. Someone probably thought they were drugs and took them. 

Fletcher said Busby could have been kicked out of New Visions, a housing center near Siena Francis House, the city’s main homeless shelter. Every night a resident doesn’t come home, the program loses money. It’s a room that could go to someone else.

But Fletcher, formerly homeless himself, knew how Busby felt.

Possessions can be a connection to a life outside homelessness. But they can also be stolen or lost. Fletcher found survival easier when he detached emotions from possessions, he said. Sometimes from relationships, too.

Fletcher remembers his fifth day working as a security guard at Together’s food pantry when a woman started throwing cans.

“I noticed she had a tattoo on her wrist that said ‘Wes,’” Fletcher said. “That’s the name I was born to. I was like, ‘Holy f*** this is my mom.’”

Fletcher, 30 then, met his mom for the first time as he strong-armed her out the door.

“She came back around six months later. She cried and felt bad,” he said. “And then she asked me where she could buy drugs. So that was that.”

The fact they both struggled with homelessness is not exceptional. One-third of kids who grow up in poverty will remain there as adults, according to the Brookings Institution. Homeless kids are particularly vulnerable to falling behind in school, developing substance abuse issues and being victimized. The Nebraska Department of Education counted more than 4,000 kids statewide who experienced homelessness during the 2021-22 school year.

Fletcher sees his mom around Omaha but has made peace with their non-relationship. His focus is on his wife and their child she’s set to deliver in September. 

Busby’s also thinking about family. As he sifted through the keepsakes he did find, he pulled out paintings he did with his daughter. He hopes she’ll be able to visit his new apartment.

‘Back at Square One’

The May sun warms McElderry as she sits in her black Subaru. She and Fletcher have come here, where Seward Street dead ends off 42nd Street, to find Busby.

He hasn’t been at his apartment in a few days.

“You’re gonna get kicked out and we’re gonna be back at square one,” McElderry tells Busby when they find him at a camp. “And then what? … You’re literally pissing (away) this opportunity. I am so upset right now. I need to walk away.”

A rough trail leads to a small clearing covered by a few tents, piles of clothes and empty bottles. Fletcher folds his arms and stares at Busby in this place where they started working together. Capone chews on a log nearby.

“I just want Roland to understand how much I care,” Fletcher says, “almost unprofessionally so. My job teaches us not to invest emotionally, but you were one of my first clients. I didn’t have those boundaries set up.”

Christopher Knight (left) puts his arm on Roland Busby’s (right) shoulder at a homeless encampment near 40th and Decatur streets on March 28, 2024. Knight is a pastor at United Church of God and Christ near 60th Street and Ames Avenue but also a next-door neighbor to Busby’s camp. Knight said his neighbors don’t cause trouble and he likes helping them, like Busby who he’s given firewood. Knight worries where people like Busby would go if the camp was cleared, and what kind of help the city is offering them. Photo by Chris Bowling/Flatwater Free Press

Busby is back outside. He also has new warrants because he never did his court-assigned community service. The life Fletcher imagined for Busby – housing, a job, his daughter – seems to be slipping away.

Busby says the move to New Visions created problems. New rules. New roommate disagreements. An argument about how much salad he could have for lunch.

Busby was also supposed to see his daughter on her birthday, May 4. He had coloring books and Beanie Babies waiting for the 6-year-old but his daughter’s mom didn’t bring her like she agreed to, Busby said.

“That’ll be the fourth birthday I missed now,” he said.

McElderry hears excuses. Fletcher is worried Busby’s depression, and his ability to handle disappointment, are bigger problems than he realized. Busby understands their frustration, but he also feels like he’s being treated like a child.

After Fletcher and McElderry leave, Busby hikes down the hill, cuts through the woods, to the Decatur Street camp where he’s lived, unhoused, for most of the past year. Busby packs the few tarps that remain of his old fort into a plastic tote while other residents wander between tents. A handful of people are still here. Another group has moved their tents just off the property.

Busby drags the plastic tote in one hand and holds Capone’s leash in the other.

He could turn right and start the hour-long walk east to 17th and Nicholas streets, to his apartment. 

Instead he turns left to trudge up the hill. Busby says he may go back to his apartment later to charge his phone. But for now, he’s headed back to his new camp. Back to his tarp-covered tent. Back to the place that feels like home.

By Chris Bowling

Chris Bowling is an investigative reporter for Flatwater Free Press. Prior to joining Flatwater Free Press Chris was an investigative reporter and editor for The Reader, Omaha's alternative monthly newspaper where he focused on issues like climate change, housing, health, criminal justice and social issues. A native of Cincinnati, Bowling graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2018.


I think most homeless folks have been unloved and abused and have learned to run away from their problems that ultimately lead to living in squalid conditions waiting to die. You can not prop them up. They have lost hope and will run. The only hope is to surrender their life to Christ and let the Holy Spirit open doors and guide them from there. Where are our churches today? Every congregation should have a safe house they maintain and rescue one at a time.

I agree! I liked what I saw from Milwaukee, though, it’s a housing issue, they need landlords that will rent to them, Omaha has always been a hard market to rent in, credit issues are the least of a homeless persons daily thoughts, I disagree with Sheriff Hansens take on the issue, its illogical to “charge” homeless people for being homeless.

An important and well told story.
I wonder what homelessness looks like in some of Nebraska’s smaller, rural communities?

Although I was raised in Lincoln and Omaha, I have lived in rural Nebraska for 40 years. In the three small towns where I’ve resided? The socioculture is such that homeless people are driven out, simply because they are viewed as “trash” by the local citizens. Although my experience is anecdotal, your suggestion that someone (FFP) look into this is an excellent one.

It’s easy for our Cities’ polititicians to sweep this issue under the rug. These people usually aren’t the ones who vote them into office so they don’t count. Now they want to punish people by making homelessness a crime, yes let’s do that. What a great idea punish people who are already down on thier luck. You think they are depressed now just wait until they,re arrested for sleeping outside.
Maybe they should look at the programs they offer to help these people. They had the genius idea of shutting down all the free or low income mental health facilities so no help there. Social Services refuse to give you aid unless you have a mailing address so no help there. OHA has such a long waiting list not alot of funding for temporary housing, and usually priority is given to families with children so if you are single or a couple no help there. The shelters are a big joke. I knew someone who worked at one and the problems there are numerous. You not only have to worry about theft, but instances of violence. Females have been assaulted and most are staffed by volunteers who are also homeless so if someone like you or you have gotten into some kind of altercation with them they will find a way to get you kicked out of there. If you get kicked out of to many of them then you won’t be allowed to get into another one. If you are a couple most shelters will not allow you to stay together because they are not coed even if you are married. It’s easy to stand on the outside and pass judgement on these people because those who do have never been in thier situations. I used to think like that these people are a nucience were just lazy and didn’t want to help themselves until happened to me. My husband and I also had hard times hit because of Covid. I knew we were losing our place to stay so I tried to get some help before we were out on the streets. The places that help with rent and utilities would only lend assistance if you had a place and even then that didn’t guarentee assistance. They only have so much funding and when they run out you are swimming in that creek with no paddle. Yes you can get pantries for food but you still need to be able to get there and alot of us didn’t have cars or reliable ones. Also there is the problem of cooking it as most gas stations don’t want people using there microwaves unless they are paying customers, and then having places to store some of the food. Some will give out fresh produce and meats but with no refrigerator you’re in that creek again. So no help with rent, food, no medical or mental help from the state if no mailing address. I was lucky that one of our relatives let me use thier address as I have heart issues so I need my medical.
Everyone would ask well don’t you have family who can help you? Some don’t have any family or thier family isn’t in a position to help. Familes want to help bit some can’t afford to have more mouths to feed or the room to accommodate more people. The ones that can help out can only help for so long. You can’t Iive with them for an extended period and they can only help so much financially before they expect you to figure out another solution.
Alot of are employed we are the new generation of working homeless.
The shame the despair the depression is sometimes more than we can bear. Having to find new places to go every couple weeks or sometimes days is a never-ending cycle. Businesses don’t want us on thier properties because they view us as nuciences and bring down thier property values. We were kicked out of more parking lots then I can count and some of them were just empty lots not even being used by the owners. We just need help to get back our feet or services that can at least provide some assistance.
We are not all criminals, drug addicts or mentally ill. However if you weren’t mentally ill before being homeless can put you on that path.
You want help these people and help fix this problem here are some ideas. Stop trying to make us criminals and move our homes. Put some of those tax dollars into temporary housing, invest in clinics that can help with some of the mental issues we had Douglas County and Richard Young until they closed we need those services again, if temporary housing is not in the budget, then make put in some safety lots where we can sleep in our vehicles without worrying about our safety, open up some centers where we can go to during the day since shelters have policies where you must leave during the day time. A day center where there is internet access so people can look and apply for jobs, maybe take some online classes or job training courses since there is no library access anymore. These day centers would have laundry facilities where people can wash clothes, get a shower, have access to a microwave. If it’s one thing I cherished when I was homeless was a shower,clean clothes, it made me feel like I was a human being and not a peice of garbage. My depression lessened a little, my self esteem went up just to have that little peice of
normalcy. Listen up elected officials stop ignoring the problem and sweeping it under the rug, roll up your sleeves start investing in solutions. Get out in the community start talking to businesses see if some of these solutions can be accomplished with donations, private funding. Meet with business owners to not only give financially but help them to see that it would lessen the problems of loitering, cut down on littering and vandalism. Talk to other community leaders, property owners see if there are opportunities to employ us, or help us get permenant housing like look at someones situation and not always thier credit score. May be willing give discount on the deposit or help on 1st month’s rent FIND SOME SOLUTIONS NOT PUNISHMENT. It’s time to help give those people who work for the mayor’s hotline some tools so when they do go out on homeless calls they can bring some answers instead of handing you a dollar tree backpack, couple bottled waters and granola bars and saying well I don’t know where you can go but you can’t stay here.

Well done, Chris. A very insightful article. Since Mayor Stothert’s urban renewal project began, Omaha’s homeless population was squeezed out of downtown into midtown. My neighborhood, for one, has changed dramatically. Just a few weeks ago, a building down the block caught fire (again) and burned to the ground. A day later, a charred body was found there. Mentally ill people now wander the streets, screaming at hallucinations and sometimes becoming verbally aggressive with passersby. So my neighbors and I walk the line between feeling compassionate and feeling resentful. I don’t believe that Tamara Dwyer or Mayor Stothert are being aggressive enough. I don’t believe criminal punishment is a deterrent. I don’t believe finding religion is the fix. State and local governments along with concerned and compassionate citizens need to somehow unite. Unfortunately, at least for now, being reactionary is the first step, followed by prevention.

I can sympathize with both sides on this issue. Since I have experienced being homeless myself it is very hard sometimes to see the property owners point of view. When you are asked to vacate a property you feel u wanted and less than human. You start to build up a cynical point of view. When we had to move we were afraid that we would run out of places to go. When you do find a place and start to settl in and feel some stability that usually when you are asked to vacate. I began to feel less than human and started to lose my faith in society itself. I looked at the property owners as cold and unsympathetic to our plight. However having said that I can understand why they don’t want homeless people on or near thier property. I have seen firsthand how some have created problems for the community. There are some who don’t have any respect for the place they are staying. When we lived in our vehicle we made sure never to trash the place. I have seen some who dont care they wi throw trash all around use the property as a bathroom. It is unsanitary and an eyesore to the owner and the general public. If a business is operating there it can affect people from coming to.that location. I have also experienced sleeping in my car and some strange guy watching me sleep. When there is a large population of certain homelessness people crime escalates in that area and people feel unsafe. If I was a property owner or homeowner I wouldn’t want to have these issues my property either. There is a fine line between sympathy and anger. I just want to let everyone know that not all of us are like that. Most of us are people who are decent and law abiding people who.fell on.hard times. People also need to see that for most Americans who live.paycheck to paycheck a lost job can mean that its very easy to become one of the homeless. My husband and I finally got ourselves out of our situation and are living in a stable residence. It was took almost six months to save up for the deposit and first month’s rent. Thank the lord that my husband was able to get a better job with more income so we could do that. Not everyone is as lucky and a little help can make a huge difference to someone finding a stable home an
t’s up to the people we ellect to find solutions so don’t be afraid to write your elected officials to not only find hp for those people but also not let them pass a bill that will punish citizens for being in the predicament they are I
Again sorry about the long post
Im very sympathetic to both sides of this problem and angry at our government officials to ignore it. We all need to come together and demand some solutions because both sides are victims to this issue.

This just might be one of the best articles I’ve ever read! Very very good read! Love that Roland is being cared about this way! Thank you for everything you’ve been doing!

Excellent article. The time and energy it took to look into homelessness in Omaha must be respected. I appreciate the openness of the article’s author. Thank you for the great job!!

I suppose this will sound heartless, but God helps those who help themselves. Roland was GIVEN (did not earn) all he needed to avoid homelessness, and he literally walked away from it. He needs to learn personal responsibility.

I am more than willing to help with anything and everything I possibly can . But need to know where these homeless camps are. And it like the old wives tale says “one bad apple doesn’t necessarily make the whole bunch bad”.



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