The Summer heat, abundance of abandoned houses, re-emergence of meth, free needle exchange, and other factors led to an increase of homeless in the Downtown Huntington area. Many settled in that area because of the availability of drugs, food, and other services in the area. There were also several abandoned houses that provided shelter.
The Spring of 2018 also saw many drug users shift their preference from heroin to meth or ice (a more crystallized version of meth). "Max", a homeless addict who lives on the streets in Huntington started initially using meth to ween himself off of heroin because of the danger of overdoses. Max said, "It got to be where the heroin wasn't heroin anymore. It was all Fentanyl and Carafentanyl. I had overdosed once and was lucky that someone had Narcan."
Max started using Suboxone to get off of opioids and meth for the buzz. He was buying Suboxone off of the street but later got a prescription for it but eventually quit going to the clinic where he was going and now uses whatever drug he can find. "I really liked ice this past warm weather. I could go for days. I eventually loss my job. The weather was warm so I'd get shelter from abandoned houses. The ice had me up for days so I really did not need a place to sleep very often. I put my belongings in a backpack or stashed them."
Abandoned houses became communities for homeless addicts. They also became dwellings for drug use, drug dealing, prostitution, harboring stolen items, and other activities. Many of these addicts began staying at The Flats. They stole furniture and appliances out of the old hotel and sold or pawned them. They stripped copper wire from the building for drug money.
I first met "Clyde" about six weeks ago when I was moving out of 4 and a Half Alley. I had paid someone to finish sweeping out my apartment. I left to go my other apartment. When I came back, the sweeper told me this guy went into my apartment. I went in there and Clyde had shot up heroin and overdosed. I had Narcan in my truck and applied it. I called 911. He was up and gone before the EMS arrived.
Clyde had just gotten out of West Regional Jail. Someone that he was in jail with told him about The Alley. Clyde gets a social security check so the ex Northern Ohio resident had access to cash. Clyde decided he liked the area and stayed. Although he has an income, he uses it on drugs not shelter. He had been ticketed twice for tresspassing in the Flats.
Clyde expanded his criminal activity. Two weeks ago he stole three hunting bows out of a parked vehicle in the area around the Flats. Him and three drug buddies attempted to sell the bows. They called an acquaintance for transportation. The acquaintance knew someone interested in the bow. Clyde did not realize that the acquaintance was the uncle of the person who the bows were stolen off of....the supposed buy was a setup. Clyde got his ass kicked and arrested.
Clyde was suddenly released as few days later as his charges were suddenly dropped. He returned to Ohio but has said he will return.
With the weather getting colder many in the alley are scrambling to find relief from the cold. A danger will be as they start fires in abandoned houses to stay warm. One homeless couple stumbled upon a vacant apartment in 4 and a Half Alley. They hit the jackpot as they had water and electricity. They stayed there two days before the landlord approached them. They left before the police arrived.
The theft continues in the downtown area. "Becky" is a homeless addicts that is scrambling to find shelter and food. Beck said, "I don't believe in stealing. I only steal because I am hungry. Most of time I find food in dumpsters or I find something else in dumpsters that I can sell to get food. I do eat at the shelter some but I don't stay at the mission because I don't have an ID."
Becky was out searching for unlocked cars for change to buy food last week. She was at a sorority house. Another homeless girl was with her. She tried a few car doors and did not have any success. She started walking down the street.
The other girl pulled up in a car she stole. The girl did not get in. The other girl told her the next day where the car was. Then, Becky's picture showed up in a video from the sorority parking lot. She contacted me to plead her innocence. The videos from the parking lot and River View Manor where the car was ditched will show she was not involved and her cooperation led to the car being recovered.
When parking in Downtown or around Marshall University, it is essential that you lock the doors of your vehicle and do not leave anything of value in sight. There are squatters from the Flats and other abandoned buildings searching for change and items to steal for drug and food money.