ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – A homeless Abilene couple say they’ve been kicked out of every place they’ve tried to lie their heads since the Abilene Police Department (APD) has begun its work with property owners to clear out encampments. The men say they have been threatened to be charged with criminal trespassing should they refuse to relocate. What they search for, along with many in similar situations, is answers as to where they are allowed to go.
It was nearly a decade ago that Cory Flannagan became homeless.
“Not just Texas. I’ve been homeless in Nevada, I’ve been homeless in multiple states – Buffalo, New York,” Flannagan listed.
Just five years later, Flannagan was joined by the man who would soon become his husband, Waylon Short. For all these years, their days have consisted of finding a place to set up their tent and sleep, taking only their two small bags and one pillow with them.
“His (Flannagan’s) bag is the more needed bag, my bag is the more ‘keep me occupied bag,’” described Short.
The couple has moved to many different places about town, Flannagan told KTAB/KRBC, including behind the McDonald’s on North 1st Street. However, he said the first encampment they were kicked out of was behind the old army surplus store, also on North 1st.
In fact, tire marks from where the tractors came in to clear out the area can still be seen there, along with cut tree limbs so that no one can hide out in the area.
“I’m being kicked out of numerous of spots. I’ve been criminal trespassing numerous of spots,” Flannagan revealed.
By Flannagan’s account, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) and APD have cleaned out encampments where they’ve stayed, and told them they could not return, four times, “They said in the City of Abilene, there is no location where the cops won’t mess with us.”
APD told KTAB/KRBC its officers have worked alongside property owners to clear out many different encampments. Here is a list of APD-confirmed encampments they’ve worked to clear out and patrol:
- North/ South 1st streets and Mockingbird Lane underpass area
- 700 block of Grape Street
- Bridge area near Academy Sports and Outdoors
- 200 block of Westmoreland Street
- 1600 Belmont Avenue
- 100-200 block of South Leggett Street
- 2400 North 1st Street
- 300 Forrest Lane
- Cal Young Park
- Catclaw Camp area
- 4220 North 1st Street
Most recently TxDOT sought out to clean up around the Elm Creek Bridge along I-20, which was a known homeless encampment.
While there is a city-wide effort to help the homelessness problem in Abilene, Flannagan said he just wants a place to be able to sleep outside unbothered.
“If we break into somewhere, it’s against us, but if we post up somewhere, it’s still against us. Like, there’s nowhere that the homeless can lay their head that they won’t get messed with by anybody,” added Flannagan.
Flannagan suggested that the city create a designated area where the homeless are allowed to be.