Tent City pops up in Detroit:

Tent city springs up in shadow of downtown Detroit

Bankruptcy behind it, Detroit’s atmosphere swirls with the promise of better days. Charles Floyd Jones can only hope that the city’s good fortune trickles down to him and the 10 other residents of a tent city that’s sprouted in the shadow of a resurgent downtown where rental occupancy is close to full and restaurants and shops are doing brisk business.

Jones and others in this makeshift community of seven tents — believed to be the only tent city in Detroit — say they have nowhere else to go.

“By us being out of bankruptcy, they can see that you got people out here that’s struggling,” said Jones, 51.

The city’s homeless numbers swelled over the past decade as manufacturing and other jobs disappeared and homes were lost during the national foreclosure crisis. All told, about 16,200 of Detroit’s 680,000 residents, almost 2.4%, are believed to be living on the streets or in temporary shelters —  and that doesn’t account for other types of homelessness, such as teens going from friend to friend and families living in motels.

By comparison, only about 1% of San Francisco’s more than 800,000 residents are homeless…

tent city

Dec. 17, 2014: Charles Floyd Jones at the tent city on the eastern edge of downtown Detroit. (AP)

 

 

“It’s quiet and you really don’t get bothered by too many people,” said Jones, who also lives with his girlfriend and has been homeless for four years.

He isn’t a fan of the rescue mission: “The last time I was there, I got bedbugs. Hopefully, I can find a shelter somewhere that’s presentable and me and my girl can go and make a stay for the winter.”

Heroic and warmhearted Detroiters pitch in to care for these hardy souls by providing warm meals and blankets (click here for the sign up page), but then…

Duggan: Detroit to put end to tent city

The city could soon take action on homeless residents who have erected a makeshift tent city near the downtown, Mayor Mike Duggan said on Thursday.

“We’re going to have to solve that,” he told reporters as he toured the North American International Auto Show at Cobo Center. “We’ve had folks from the homeless shelters out there every day for the last four or five days. At some point, we’re going to have to enforce the law.”

Duggan said the people who are living in an encampment off east Jefferson Avenue, between Rivard and St. Aubin, can’t have open fires, let trash pile up or stay in the parks at night. He vowed to spend some time in the shelters to look at conditions, and will continue to send social service workers to the tents to try and move the people inside buildings.

“It’s basically 10-12 individuals who have decided being out in a tent is better than being in the shelters. We’re handling it sensitively … one way or another, we’ll get them removed.

 

Needless to say, the solution for homelessness will require deeper soul searching than moving 10-12 people out of one park…

See a slightly more thoughtful Free Press article about Tent City’s ‘relocation’ here: http://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/detroit/2015/01/08/detroit-tent-homeless/21466441/

UPDATE:

Residents of Detroit tent city move to housing

The unofficial mayor and others residing at a makeshift tent city downtown have accepted an offer for refuge, officials confirmed Friday.

After spending seven months at the site on Jefferson, Stephon Charles Jones, the “mayor” of the tent community, agreed to a stable housing arrangement. The campers have moved to a private location within two miles of where they had been residing, said Alexis Wiley, the chief of staff for Mayor Mike Duggan.

Wiley confirmed that Jones and about 10 other campers have taken up the offer facilitated by the Neighborhood Service Organization.

News of the move comes one day after Duggan vowed to continue sending social service workers to the tents to try to move the homeless individuals into buildings. The mayor also stressed that the conditions were not safe and that the city could soon take action on the tented living quarters off east Jefferson Avenue, between Rivard and St. Aubin.

“We’re going to have to solve that,” the mayor told reporters as he toured the North American International Auto Show at Cobo Center on Thursday.

In a Friday phone interview with The News, Jones said he feels good about taking the help and that it was provided to everyone. Initially, he resisted any offers for housing.

“What basically made me change my mind is everybody got the chance to move, not just one individual,” he said. “That’s what I wanted to do.

“I feel good about it,” he said. “Nobody is out in the cold no more.”

With homelessness staring them in the face, our leaders chose the most superficial of solutions by removing Tent City and its 10 or so inhabitants. Unfortunately thousands of our brothers and sisters are still out there struggling without permanent shelter. Who will provide the solution for this problem? Who are our true leaders?

Detroit ‘tent city’ homeless get relocated to warming centers