Several homeless tent cities in Torrington will be removed in the coming weeks, according to the city.
Mayor Elinor Carbone said that while concerns from residents did lead to the decision, she said all of the encampments are on private property.
"These are good taxpaying citizens. They have concerns about public health and public safety, so yeah, we do feel an obligation also to make sure they're being protected," Carbone said.
The mayor said her hope going forward is to work with social services and police to find a long term solution for those living in tent cities and on the streets. She added that very few people live in the camps during the winter months, and at this time they are all vacant.
She said the dismantling process will begin this month.
"My concern here goes beyond just the nuisance that the neighbors are experiencing," Carbone said. "My concern is for the safety of these individuals. We can't enable them to continue to live outside in weather conditions such as we have here [Wednesday] or the weather conditions that predicted this weekend."
Some who've worked with the city's homeless for years said the city's decision isn't right.
"To me, it was a very cold letter that homeless people don't exist. That they're a nuisance to the public," said Lisa Hageman, executive director of the soup kitchen in Torrington.
She has been working with the city's homeless population for years and said there are about 60 people living in the five tent cities, which are all walking distance to downtown.
"At least once a week I am at these sites, and I walk back and forth to these homeless sites, and check what they need and make sure it's under control," Hageman said.
She added that she worries about the short-term reality. There is no shelter in the city that allows those in need to just walk in for a night or two.
Copyright 2016 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.