HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – The clock is ticking. People living in tent city have two weeks to get out. Advocates for Huntsville’s homeless are meeting Thursday, June 5, 2014. They are scrambling to find the homeless another place.
Why are the people who live in Tent City being forced out? It comes down to location. Tent City is near Derrick Street in Huntsville underneath an Interstate 565 overpass.
It’s private property owned by the state. Department of Transportation workers believe Tent City is a hazard and liability.
Community leaders and homeless advocates wonder where to move the city’s homeless. They have two weeks to figure it out.
“We actually got together and came up with some alternative locations we thought may be possible. There is a problem. The majority of the property is private property,” said North Alabama Coalition for the Homeless Executive Director Lineise Arnold.
Complaints pushed the state to shut down Tent City.
“It really originated with some of our own individual personnel of being concerned about their safety when they did bridge inspection work and some of the paraphernalia they were coming across,” said Alabama Department of Transportation Engineer Johnny Harris.
Huntsville Police investigated a stabbing there about a week ago. Three people were hurt.
“I wouldn’t say that was the main motivation. Like I say, it was just another incident in a long line of incidents that raised the awareness to another level that had not been experienced before,” added Harris.
Arnold urges her clients to use shelters.
“We are communicating with shelters to ask for some leniency on their admissions policy and leniency on individuals who may have been barred or suspended,” added Arnold.
ALDOT workers will soon post ‘no trespassing’ signs and look for violators.
“We’ll take immediate action with the Huntsville Police Department to remedy that situation,” added Harris.
Most homeless advocates understand ALDOT’s position. The advocates believe their agencies could use help getting resources to handle the massive workload of assisting people who live on the streets.
Harris told WHNT News 19 ALDOT allowed the homeless to live in Tent City 18 years as a way to assist with Huntsville’s homeless issue.