Home News Local News Remaining homeless resist removal; Berrendo riverbed dweller tells city ‘quit helping’

Remaining homeless resist removal; Berrendo riverbed dweller tells city ‘quit helping’

A man living within the Wash, Elwood Harpazo, sifts through his belongings Tuesday afternoon. Although he had been notified by the city to leave and was cited for living within the Berrendo river area, he still chooses to remain. (Trevier Gonzalez Photo)

Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

Despite the notice warning the homeless living within the Berrendo riverbed to vacate the premises by Friday, there are few who still remain within the Wash.

“I think I’m the only one down here right now,” said Elwood Harpazo. “Because everybody’s either left, or in jail right now.

“I don’t know — they got everybody (Tuesday) I guess. That’s why Jack was all freaked out.”

Harpazo, who previously told the Daily Record the city of Roswell implemented the notice as a means to outlaw homelessness, said he was ticketed Monday.

“I thought it was hilarious when they showed up here,” he said. “(Police) had black tape on their badge numbers and name tags, like really?

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“They were pretty cool about it. Well, I guess as cool as they can be. They gave us two citations.”

According to the Roswell Police Department’s public information officer, Todd Wildermuth, a total of four citations were administered by code enforcement and the RPD, requiring recipients to appear in court.

The RPD had arrived with state police, Harpazo said. He later asked officers about the ownership of the land he was residing on.

“BLM controls it — well, maintains it,” he said. “But, if you ask individual people, they all give you different answers. Nobody can give a straight answer on this.

“This is private property. The dude lives in Illinois or some place, and he left it specifically for the homeless.”

With his belongings scattered about, Harpazo could not find his most recently acquired ticket.

Having lived within the Wash for three years, Harpazo said he had also received a citation back in 2016.

After he went to court last year, Harpazo said he was allowed to return to his living area without any issues from the city.

Harpazo said another resident of the Wash, Daniel Maddux, used to live nearby.

“Daniel lives right over there,” he gestured. “But he’s in jail because yesterday, if you manned up to (law enforcement, they wrote you a ticket and if you were a coward and ran from them — they put arrest warrants out.”

Wildermuth said city code enforcement officers visited the area Friday, giving the remaining homeless community members a grace period until Monday.

Harpazo said authorities had also found a warrant for Maddux from long ago.

According to police records, Maddux was arrested Monday on an earlier shoplifting charge at the Roswell Mall.

“It was one of those kind of deals,” he said. “Then they arrested Paul (Tuesday) morning — I don’t know why.”

Harpazo described his friend Paul as “a whole lot off.”

“But that don’t make him a bad guy,” Harpazo said. “He hears stuff. The water pipes talk to him. I built that box for him down there because he was sleeping in a tent that was destroyed. I got to know him real well.”

Harpazo noted that he helped his friend, “Rodney the drunk.”

“I got him out of here today,” he said. “I took him out to wherever everyone else is moving.”

Harpazo said he had offered to help another homeless man, Jack Wright.

“He said he had it,” Harpazo said. “I haven’t seen him, so I don’t know. Everybody else bugged out.”

Wright told the newspaper about a month ago that in response to Nov. 17 eviction, he had been looking to find nearby shelter.

He was found later Tuesday evening, heading back toward the Wash.

The homeless man had been going back and forth, moving his personal belongings from the riverbed to a new living area.

After being asked if the walk to the new living area was a long one, he said, “It sure is.”

“It’s kind of hard to gather everything, drag it over (to somewhere else,) you know?” He said. “(But) I’ll get the job done.”

Wright, in agreement with Harpazo, described the process as calm, with no real altercations with law enforcement.

While Harpazo regards himself as “bill-less” rather than homeless, he attributed the recent activity toward the homeless community to Mayor Dennis Kintigh.

“My person is being threatened and I would take it better if I knew it wasn’t a campaign stunt,” Harpazo said. “How come it wasn’t a problem then? And now Kintigh needs a job — it’s a problem all of the sudden.”

Harpazo mentioned one instance while he was at a McDonald’s and noticed others talking about the homeless.

“I heard some people talking about us getting ran off from here and they’re like, ‘They don’t care, they’ll just go somewhere else,’” Harpazo said. “I‘m like — how do you get that?

“Then, another misconception, I won’t pay rent because I am homeless. I own a very nice house, but the judge gave it to my wife.”

Harpazo said the newspaper is the only organization that reached out to him for a public comment.

“You guys are the only ones — that’s what kills me,” he said. “They are all talking about us — not to us.”

After Harpazo was asked if there was anything he wanted the city to know, he said, “Quit helping.”

City reporter Alison Penn can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or at reporter04@rdrnews.com.

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