Homeless given notice to vacate Cleveland Avenue tent camp in Huntsville

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala – In March, homeless residents in Huntsville were moved from the Mill Street tent camp in Huntsville due to flood mitigation projects. Many moved to the Cleveland Avenue tent camp across the street.

Over the past month, they began receiving notices from HPD telling them they must move again. 

According to a spokesperson for the City of Huntsville, flood mitigation plans that have been in the works for quite some time include work that will require people who live at the Cleveland tent camp to move. Those who settled there from the Mill Street camp across the street tell News 19 that news came as a shock.

On a hot late-spring day food and water is a welcomed delivery. It’s a moment of levity at the Cleveland Avenue tent camp as a pastor stops by with supplies. Pastor Mark Tipton says he comes to the camp five days a week.

“I’ve learned not even really to say homeless because I think they’re displaced,” Tipton said.

He says moving is an overwhelming undertaking for people who are displaced.

“To me it’s harder because everything they have is going to be on their backs. They have no modes of transportation,” the pastor noted.

Registered sex offenders live at the Cleveland Avenue camp. One says they’re concerned about violating the law by inadvertently relocating too close to a childcare facility or school.

Through a social media post, News 19 obtained a notice to vacate the Cleveland Avenue tent camp. We have not been able to confirm its authenticity, but people who live at the camp say they recognize it.

“It also says if we leave any trash out here, we’re going to be arrested,” said David Wright, a resident of the tent camp.

The notice News 19 obtained says people could be issued with an arrest citation if they don’t remove all their belongs according to Ordinance 22-35.

A city spokesperson says Huntsville police have given people living at the Cleveland Avenue camp a notice to sign and acknowledge they must vacate the property in the next five to seven months.

News 19 received the following statement from HPD saying people will have to move before the state of construction. This includes removing all items from the area they have occupied.

We have received inquiries about the impact future infrastructure construction projects would have on the Cleveland Ave area where some homeless citizens have encamped.  While the start of the project is still approximately five months away, the Huntsville Police Department Community Resource Officers are working to notify people in the area now so they have ample opportunity to make other arrangements.  Each person living in the area has been asked to sign a form acknowledging they understand they will need to relocate prior to the start of construction. This includes removing all items from the area they have occupied. We look forward to continuing partnership with the various supportive services agencies who assist in these type transitions.

Huntsville Police Department

The people who live at the Cleveland Avenue tent camp say it’s a confusing situation.

“We thought this would be the perfect spot because before they moved us over here. They didn’t say nothing about the drain system,” said Felicia Wood, who lives at the tent camp.

Police addressed the issue of relocating sex offenders from the Mill Street camp. But now, David Wright, who tells News 19 their a registered sex offender, isn’t sure where to go.

“What am I going to do,” Wright asked.

A city spokesperson says HPD will be working with sex offenders who have to move from the camp. They also said when it comes to the move the goal is to get them into case management. In terms of ensuring people remove their belongings, they say the goal is not to arrest people.

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