Tent City closure leaves few long-term solutions for city’s displaced homeless

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – Advocates for Huntsville’s homeless, along with aid organizations and law enforcement have been working for months to find a place for the city’s soon-to-be displaced Tent City residents.

On June 16th, the people living under I-565 will be forced out of their long-time camp site, under the order of the Alabama Department of Transportation.

But relocating around 30 people has proven to be a challenge.

While some are happy to stay in a shelter, others found comfort in their Tent City lifestyle.

“In every place you put them that`s sanctioned by some organization there will be certain rules,” said Sergeant Mark Roberts, with Huntsville Police Department.  “Sometimes they can`t abide by them for whatever reason.”

Throughout the months of discussions, some homeless advocates proposed city or privately funded camp sites for the homeless to stay.

But Roberts thinks it is unlikely the idea would ever become reality. First, there is the problem of funding and resources. Even if the resources were available, Roberts and aid organizations are hesitant to move all of the displaced homeless to one location.

“Large camps are not really a good idea,” said Roberts. “They bring an assortment of different problems. If there’s only one or two at a site you don`t have a lot of those problems, but you get a large group and you have waste problems, garbage problems, you don’t want a lot of foot traffic to cause problems to surrounding landowners and business owners.”

Some of Huntsville homeless have already vacated Tent City and found temporary camp sites or shelter,  but there are still few answers about where they can stay long term.


    • Harold Cummins

      You are so right (sarcasm). Some people sit so high on their pedestal of judgment that they cant see the truth beyond their own opinion. I am sure that all those homeless live in tents and the dirt and heat because they want to. It was their life long dream to be homeless.

      Okay so think about this. Many refuse to live in homeless shelters because they are trying to be independent and don’t like to pack up all their stuff every day and move in and out of a place. Many homeless shelters, despite their efforts, are not better than living in a tent. They live under the highway because it provides some shelter and most people don’t go there so they have some privacy and a measure of dignity. I would rather live under the overpasses than a homeless shelter except in extreme cases.

      I was homeless for a period after serving in the military and I promise you it was not by choice. Most folks I met while on the street were not there by choice. Many drop through the cracks and once there comments by people like you were the norm. The process of survival becomes your full time job and there is nothing left for “moving forward”. I was given an option to work, even without an address and phone number or bank account, by a small family business. They were honest, hard working immigrants that knew first hand what it meant to be so poor you might as well have been homeless. Funny how all the Americans I asked for assistance to “move forward” didn’t have anything to offer but criticism and attitude. If you are not offering an option up then you are nothing more than a waste of hot air and useless energy.

  • Jeanne

    Some people…Well, many people…have forgotten the saying “but for the Grace of God, there go I” and close their minds on who these people are that are living this way. Somehow I can’t help feeling bad for these people who, perhaps through no fault of their own, find themselves homeless. I think I can understand that if I found myself out on the street that I might prefer living in my own space. Even if only a tent…rather than cramped into a shelter situation with a crowd of strangers. I think we need to try to understand who these people are and why they are there and then maybe we can offer effective help rather than just trying to sweep them under the rug.

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