NewsLocal News

Actions

Homeless seek shelter in underground tunnels; raises concern for Omaha residents

Posted at 7:38 AM, Mar 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-26 08:51:09-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — A number of people in downtown Omaha are speaking out after chronic break-ins and damage to their apartment building.

People living at the Central Park Tower say those experiencing homelessness are finding ways into the building, taking over common areas and leaving behind drugs and debris.

It's not just the residents raising concerns it's also neighboring businesses that have experienced the same thing.

Video captures what many residents of the Central Park Tower are calling a vagrant break-in.

"We are scared to death because they walk down the hallways, shake our doorknobs trying to get in," said one tenant who chose not to go on camera.

She said the issue is only growing as more homeless individuals find ways into the building.

Pictures show the conditions in the basement and common areas, as well as the aftermath of break-ins.

Bed.jpg
lootedStorageFamilyPhotos.jpg

"They are just all over downstairs. It goes one and then down lower and lower and lower. They are everywhere,” said the tenant.

She’s talking about underground tunnels in the basement that have allowed loiterers to make home in neighboring businesses as well.

"I can't stress enough that it's not safe," said Theresa McKinney, who cut hair next door in the past.

McKinney would often show up to work with people sleeping on the floor and items stolen off the shelves.

"It was fearful to go to the bathroom sometimes so we did have mace with us most of the time. Sometimes it would be scary where would call the office and say ‘hey, somebody is back there and you need to come chase them out’," said McKinney.

McKinney has since moved onto another location, but Anthony Kellogg has filled her space and he is also trying to mitigate the issue.

"We are connected to the apartments right there so we do have people in the back. We had to put up a gate in the back to stop people from using our bathroom or even coming into our business," said Kellogg.

Tenants said they have made complaints about the lack of security, adding they are tired of feeling unsafe in the building they call home.

"They'll just yank on that door and it's supposed to be a secure door. They'll just yank on it and get in. Or following other people in and the people aren’t stopping them. We got so many disabled in here that you couldn't fight them off if you had to no way," said Kellogg.

KMTV reached out to Seldin Company, which manages the Central Park Tower.

They acknowledged the issue, adding homeless individuals are entering Central Park Tower when the office is closed and that this is occurring primarily from the handicap door staying open long enough behind residents coming in for others to enter.

They said they have continued routine security patrols and are looking at replacing doors to the property.

Download our apps today for all of our latest coverage.

Get the latest news and weather delivered straight to your inbox.