EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – A shooting Tuesday night on Myrtle Street has left residents already concerned about homeless camps along the street and with recent violence uneasy, and they are now searching for answers on what could be done.

John Martin with the Opportunity Center for the Homeless in South El Paso says that the homeless population in El Paso has increased significantly since the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

If you look at the height of the pandemic which would be in 2020, we saw about a 50% increase of need within the community and it has continued forward into 2021 with an additional 5% on top of that and we are seeing trends and it looks like we’re going to break last year’s records.

John Martin, Opportunity Center for the Homeless

The opportunity center is working with the City to engage with those who need their help, even those who do not choose to stay with them in the shelter. They are expanding an already existing project that focuses on those who either are on their own, or with others.

“We want to introduce a location by which all individuals are welcome whether it be single adults that are homeless or families that are homeless and then immediately engage them into services and that will be done through ourselves and other partners in the community.”

Martin understands the communities concern regarding the camps, adding that it’s up to the neighbors to let the center or the police department know if there is a situation, and they will be able to handle it.

“So, we do understand the concern but we do need the eyes and ears of the community because we can’t be everywhere at all times and so we need folks to let us know if there is an issue.”

Martin says they always try to engage with the those who choose to come into the shelter and those who do not but either way, they do not turn away anyone who comes to their door.

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