Hidden homeless community in New Bedford outed after recent incidents

By Matt Blanchette

mblanchette@abc6.com

@mattblanchette

A recent report of a missing child in the woods in New Bedford leads police to a hidden homeless community.
That homeless hideaway may now be destroyed affecting dozens of people that called it "home."
Tucked away behind the Save-a-lot food store in the northern part of the city, locals call this homeless community called the outback.
It's been there for over a decade, but only recently come to the attention to police and health officials in the city.
"People just survive out here bro. they eat here. They have the save a lot, a laundry mat. These people just fall short," James Soares said.
Soares has called his portion of the outback home for many years.
"I work hard. I do the best I can, but I can't afford rent and everything else."
The Outback is an abandoned structure and many camp sites.
For the most part the people here keep to themselves.
But after a report of a missing child which turned out to be inaccurate and an assault which occurred in these woods, attention is now being drawn to this community of homeless.
“We don't allow that in this campground. This is where the problem came. A few bad people made some bad decisions and bad choices and put a bad name on everyone that is homeless,” Soares said.
Bruce Morrell of People Acting for Community Endeavors, which works to improve life for low income people in New Bedford, says communities like this are not uncommon and are usually left alone.
“I think if people are out there and they are peaceful and they are not causing any problems I don't think they are going to attract much attention. To be perfectly honest I wasn't aware of it.”
The health department recently surveyed the land and have since asked the owner to take steps to clean it up.
If and when he does, people like Soares will truly have no place to go.
“We fell short but we pulled together we made a family out here and that's what we did. Now a couple strays come in here and they just blew up the spot.”