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Homeless tent city in Cleveland raises concerns as leaders search for solutions

Posted at 11:12 PM, Dec 09, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-10 07:28:38-05

A homeless encampment has sprung up underneath the Detroit-Superior Bridge in Cleveland over the last several months, sending city leaders searching for a solution.

The encampment consists of nearly a dozen tents and close to 30 residents at times.

In one week, there were at least four calls to Cleveland police, including two for possible assaults.  

Cleveland City councilman Kerry McCormack said they are aware of the situation and taking a comprehensive approach. In recent weeks, police and public safety officials, people from the health department, and homeless advocates have been down to talk to tent city residents, McCormack said.

“The idea isn’t just to bulldoze a whole bunch of tents,” McCormack said. “These are human beings so we have to make sure we’re creating a clean and safe environment, but also ensure those folks have homes to go to and that we can get them rehoused safely.”

Several of the residents moved from the tent city that used to be further along in the Flats, displaced to make room for the Irishtown Bend project — a 23-acre public park that will be along the west bank of the Cuyahoga River.

So the bigger concern, officials from Ohio City Incorporated said, is when construction begins on the Irishtown Bend project in 2019 and displaces these folks once again.

“Making sure we have a plan in place when that work begins, that we have the ability to thoughtfully deal with the residents down there and find them a new home,’ said Tom McNair, executive director of Ohio City Incorporated.

McCormack said that some people want to see the tent city removed right away, but he and Ohio City Inc. are working with local agencies like the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless to make sure everything is done in a humane way.

“And make sure that area is safe and clean and that those folks can get into some stable and safe housing,” McCormack said. Officials said they have already moved several individuals into permanent housing.