MACON, Ga. — Joseph Weaver says he was out with his husband and dog walking at Gateway Park when he came across a homeless encampment -- one of a few in Macon-Bibb County.
Weaver says he was "completely horrified" by what he saw.
The park has become home to people experiencing homelessness in downtown Macon. Their shelter is made up of plywood, pipes and tarps. A tent is made to feel a little more at home with a welcome mat sitting outside with a lawn chair.
"I feel for our homeless people. I just think we need a more productive situation for them and to be able to clean up our parks," Weaver said.
This isn't the first time the area has turned into a homeless encampment. Back in 2017, Macon-Bibb County broke one up in the park and cleaned it up. Now this encampment takes up a strip of the park.
"We're trying to identify who they are, where they come from, things like that," said Captain Brad Wolfe with the Bibb County Sheriff's Office.
This is only one camp on the Bibb County Sheriff's Office's radar. Another is off Harrison Road near Walmart. There, Blankets are thrown over limbs, and tents buried back in the woods.
"We don't want to just go down and uproot these people with nowhere to go without making services available to them," Wolfe said.
The problem is there are not enough resources available. Right now, the Salvation Army is at capacity because of COVID-19 precautions, which include social distancing.
"Our services and request for services have never been in demand like this… we are definitely seeing an uptick in people wanting those services," Development Director of the Salvation Army of Greater Macon PJ Sardoma said.
Sardoma says they have the community support but limited space.
"We rely on those services to help us, to help us out when we go to address these homeless communities to make resources available to them. To whether it be healthcare, bathing or whatever it may be to direct them in the right path to find them the services they need," Wolfe said. "It's a little bit frustrating to find the answer to all of this. We're trying to help these people as much as we can. As much help as they'll accept."
The Salvation Army says though they're at capacity in terms of beds, they are keeping the shelter open for people to cool off during the day, Sadoma said.
You can donate to the Salvation Army here.