Watch CBS News

Homeless Camp Set Up In Shopping Center Parking Lot

By Dillon Thomas

LONGMONT, Colo. (CBS4)- Residents in Longmont may have noticed an increase of homeless individuals living at the JCPenney parking lot at Nelson Road and Hover Street.

Several homeless individuals have created a miniature camp of trailers in the parking lot. And, due to the lot being private property, the city cannot legally kick campers off the property.

(credit: CBS)

CBS4 spoke to some of the lot's residents, who said they wanted to simply be left alone by the community.

"Treat people they way you want to be treated," one resident said, simply identifying himself as Dan.

(credit: CBS)

Dan told CBS4 he lived in a trailer by choice, "It is a nice place to be, waking up with different trees and different skies every day."

Although Dan preferred the lifestyle of living in his small trailer, he said he did not want to live in the JCPenney parking lot.

(credit: CBS)

"I got moved [from a previous location] by the police. I usually like to stay out in the woods," Dan said.

JCPenney told CBS4 the company intended to address the issue of campers living in the corporation's parking lot.

CBS4's Dillon Thomas interviews Sam Wells, a resident in one of the trailers. (credit: CBS)

However, the reasoning from the store was not a good reason to remove those in the trailers, according to Sam Wells, a resident in one of the trailers.

"You can see open parking spots here, it's not like we are taking clients away from them," said Wells.

(credit: CBS)

Wells told CBS4 he and other trailer residents have been respectful of the stores.

Wells, who only makes $180 a month in disability, said he even used some of his monthly income in the stores.

(credit: CBS)

"People are taking whatever financial assistance they get, which is not a lot, but they are still going in and buying what they need," Wells said.

Dan told CBS4 he felt the parking lot residents were cautious of their presence, and made sure to leave customers of King Soopers and JCPenney alone.

(credit: CBS)

However, he also added he could understand why the stereotype of a homeless individual might intimidate the stores.

"[They homeless] are undesirable because they leave messes, and stuff. We don't," Dan said.

Wells, who used to live out of his truck until his brother purchased him the trailer, said he wanted to move away from the JCPenney parking lot. However, Wells said rent for a lot at a local park is at least $20 a night, something he said he couldn't afford.

(credit: CBS)

Wells said he hoped to receive a job as a campsite supervisor at a park. If hired, Wells could live at a park campsite free of charge in exchange for his services.

Until he received an offer, Wells said he would continue to hope the stores in Longmont would welcome him, and his fellow parking lot residents.

"I am very grateful that JCPenney has been lenient with that," Wells said.

JCPenney emailed this statement to CBS4: The parking lot of our store in Longmont is the Company's private property. Those choosing to park vehicles in the store's parking lot overnight or any other time, except for the purpose of shopping, must receive advance written permission. JCPenney management has attempted to contact the individuals in the campers, but has been unsuccessful. We will continue to assess the situation and make efforts to contact the individuals to advise them of our policy.

CBS4 reached out to the City of Longmont for comment on the matter. At publishing time, the city had not returned calls.

Dillon Thomas is a reporter at CBS4 and a Colorado native. He believes everyone has a story, and would love to share yours! You can find more of his stories by following him on Twitter, @DillonMThomas.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.