Homeless Advocate: Problem not solved it has just moved

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) --  Right now dozens of homeless people are camping out under bridges, on private property and in the woods around our city.

This is the result of Tent City, the homeless camp under I-565, officially being shut down Monday.

The state Department of Transportation ordered the closure last year. The deadline was pushed back several times.

Tent City  served as a place for Huntsville homeless for more than 20 years, so the department of transportation’s order to shut down the camp left the residents and volunteers reeling.

Advocate group volunteers have worked to find alternative housing, but they say now the problem with homelessness has just been spread out in our community. Advocates say this is making the job of keeping track of this vulnerable segment of the population a lot more challenging.  The city of Huntsville is allowing about a dozen former tent city dwellers to camp on city property near the former camp, but those people must start the process of enrolling in long-term housing.

WHNT News 19 cameras found homeless camps set up near Veterans Memorial Park under bridges,  along Holmes Avenue, and near Governors Drive.

Homeless advocate Rusty Loiselle says this is everyone's problem and says it is not going away.

"We need to come up with a better solution because just moving these people to other campsites is not going to give us any different results than what we have seen before," Loiselle says.




  • Rick

    We cant help those who wont help themselves.
    On the other hand, why not just move them into some of the Huntsville Housing Authority properties… those people live there for little to nothing, get utility assistance, and food stamps.

  • blazingphoenix1961@gmail.com

    Wherever they are moved does not need to be near single family residential areas. They have behavioral issues and lifestyles that create problems and measures need to be taken to ensure that none of this is inflicted upon anyone. These camps are dangerous and extremely unsanitary and should be shut down anywhere they pop up in this city. A lot of the issues are metal and this makes the situation even more difficult to address.

  • Sunshine99

    If they were interested in abiding by the rules, they could easily go to the salvation army or rescue mission , or the likes ……

  • Richard

    Look at those who live in the projects….. driving Escalades with 20in rims, wearing bling bling fashion, loading up on free Obama phones and Food Stamps, and soaking up unemployment or disability benefits. Why it is OKAY that those people are given help… but the homeless arent? To me… wouldn’t it make sense to give the homeless the benefits rather than those who choose to sit at home and collect. Handouts should be used to get ones life back on track, not used as a way of life forever. Many HHA dwellers live there BY CHOICE because they DONT WANT TO WORK (and lose their free benefits) . Has anyone offered these homeless a job…. offered them food stamps…an Obama phone….anything?? I would much rather my tax dollars help those transition in to a self supporting lifestyle rather tan making a lifestyle bumming off the government.

    • Penny McGlathery

      Richard, not only that but there are several large buildings around town that have been unused for years. They would present a great opportunity for those who need a little help with getting a solid foundation under them so they could live a productive life. The mast majority of these people WANT a job, want a hone, want what most of us have. Many are willing to do anything to get there but its awful hard when you are smacked down time and time again. We have helped numerous people get into housing and not government subsidized housing, but something they can call their own. ALL in the world they needed was a helping hand not a hand out…..

  • Penny McGlathery

    After reading these comments some of you would do yourself a favor and visit some of these camps. It angers me because you speak of things you have NO idea about. These people are not CRAZY, these camps are NOT dangerous, I have been a homeless advocate for many years and I can tell you that the places these people find themselves in are for many reasons. Many want to help THEMSELVES but how about you think how hard it is to even fill out an application for work? They have no bathroom to shower in and make themselves presentable, they have no address to provide, they have no way to get to the interview if they get lucky enough to find one. YES, they can walk but if they do they most certainly look like they have when they reach their destination. MANY of these people have drug felonies from YEARS ago, so yeah, try and get a job with that residing on your record. When you have absolutely NOTHING, think about how hard it is to get ANYTHING! Some want to be on the streets forever, and trust me they take care of themselves quite well, with hardly a footprint to show where they were, where they have been or going. It would be a really nice world if it were possibly to stop poverty , mental illness and issues with veterans returning from war who cannot get help from our wonderful government for their medical and mental health needs. MANY veterans are on the streets these days for that sole reason…would you have them tossed away like garbage as well? This is a very complex issue, these are people and deserve to have a voice no matter what situation they are in, but sadly they do not! If you think shelters are the answer, well I would invite you to visit one. Just for 10 minutes and I am pretty sure you would see things differently. But of course dress like a homeless person so you see the REAL reality. Have these people put themselves in the situation they are in? Most assuredly in many situations they did, by bad decisions and other things have caused them to be where they are. Does that mean they are garbage ? So, while you sit in your air-conditioned house, after you have ate a meal or even if you are on break from your job….just remember but by the grace of God go I.

  • Pat McGuffin

    I can’t help thinking that a city like ours should be able to find the resources to convert some of the overly-abundant empty retail space into appropriate living quarters for the homeless, and find a way to adjust the zoning regulations for the re-purposing of those business properties into housing.

  • Daniel Kubicsek

    If some of you would ever get off your butts and leave your precious little politically garbage city and visit a larger city like Memphis or Miami than you would not think “tent city” was such a bad idea. You would be loving the idea of keeping them a camp to live at. When you walk downtown and see them with foam mattresses rolled up during the day sitting on five gallon buckets in front of your precious “small town” shops and stores in the square down town and sleeping on the foam mattresses lined up by the hundreds. All up and down the sidewalks down town than again you would love the idea of them having a “camp” out of sight for them to relax and sleep. Give them folks back their little camp, they weren’t bothering anyone and half of them are nice as can be. It’s hard to live out here if you already have something, so imagine how hard it would be to start with absolutely nothing.

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