HUNTSVILLE, Ala (WHNT) — The Huntsville City Council, along with Huntsville Community Development, have set a date to evict everyone living at the Derrick Street homeless camp.  

The camp is the most populated in the city and homeless advocates have threatened legal action to stop the eviction.

Those advocates say the city should focus more on finding the homeless population a place to live rather than displace them once again. State homeless advocates are demanding a halt to the homeless camp evictions.

“No more evictions, no more stalling and no more lying and no more making up excuses,” said Emma Steel of Love Huntsville.  

The closure of the Derrick Street homeless camp follows the closure of the Mill Street and Cleveland Street camps within the past year. Those closures increased the population of the Derrick Street location. 

Advocacy groups, backed by the Southern Poverty Law Center and Alabama Arise, among others, sent a letter to the city council on Thursday – demanding accountability on the camp closure while the collaboration is threatening legal action if the city goes ahead with the eviction plan. 

“We don’t like it – long story short. It’s not a good solution,” Jordan Steelman, president of Vote Huntsville tells News 19. “It hasn’t worked for the past 40 years sweeping camps. We see homelessness in the United States increasing right now in this time of housing shortages and economic strife and that is the real issues.”

Advocates say that closing the largest homeless camp in the city is hiding the real issues in homeless housing. They say that the camps closure violates guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and constitutional rights.

The groups are asking for Housing First programs before closing the camp. 

“Those systems don’t exist in Huntsville,” Steelman continued. “There’s no plan for them to exist in Huntsville that has been published and we have been working with the city, so we know a lot of behind the scenes from where we’ve been and we haven’t seen anything and that’s why we are frustrated.”

Huntsville Housing Director Scott Erwin says that it’s time for the camp to be cleared.

“Murder, arrests to stabbings stolen vehicles, firearms are some of the reasons to shut it down,” Erwin stated. “This is not a lifestyle that we want to accept for our community.” 

Erwin says the current population at the Derrick Street camp has until July first to find somewhere else to live.