'Tent City' breakdown underway, city stands firm on no relocation

'Tent City' breakdown underway, city stands firm on no relocation

DOWNTOWN CINCINNATI (FOX19) - The breakdown of the homeless camp at Third and Plum streets is underway in downtown Cincinnati.

It must be vacated by 8 a.m. Wednesday when the city will begin a cleanup.

Late Monday, Acting City Manager Patrick Duhaney, said the city has not agreed to support moving the camp to anther location.

Duhaney's comments came after Sam Landis, the leader of the homeless advocacy group, Maslow's Army, said the camp would move from its current location to a new location "just east."

Landis declined to specifically say where but predicted the site would be completely cleared out Tuesday and begin to move around 6 a.m. Wednesday. He also said the chief executive officer of Fern, Aaron Bludworth, is donating trucks from his Cincinnati company to help with the move.

As of Tuesday evening, a few campers remained at the site underneath the Fort Washington Way bridge. Some didn't seem to be in a big hurry to go and they expressed sadness at leaving the camp they've called home.

"I do feel bad about leaving here. I feel a whole lot -- I'm sad because we've got to leave here. It's terrible." said Allen Howard, a resident of the camp.

Late last week, Duhaney said he met with representatives of the camp and worked out a compromise.

City officials suspended a 72-hour vacate order based on a mutual understanding that those living in the camp leave by Wednesday.

When Landis announced Monday the camp was moving "just east' of Downtown, he declined to provide further details, including the specific spot.

He said Duhaney approved the location.

But Duhaney's statement late Monday rebutted that:

"Earlier today we received word that some confusing misinformation had made its way to the media regarding the Third Street camp and those currently living there. I want to help clarify what occurred and the City Administration's position on the matter.

Landis responded and said they were surprised and frustrated about Duhaney's comment.

"We are surprised and frustrated by the statement issued by the Acting City Manager. As disheartened as we are, we remain more committed than ever to advocate for the human rights and basic needs of people experiencing homelessness and poverty, including those who want or need to live outside. 

Throughout this process, we have been working with the Acting City Manager and several Members of City Council in good faith. On Thursday, we helped negotiate a compromise between them and the people residing in the tent city in the underpass near 3rd and Plum Streets. The Acting City Manager verbally agreed to allow some of the residents of the tent city to move to a new location if Bison got the residents to vacate the current location by Wednesday. Accordingly, on Friday, Acting City Manager Patrick Duhaney and Councilman Greg Landsman spent about 45 minutes driving around downtown with Bison and me scoping out potential locations to which residents of the tent city could relocate. They repeatedly expressed their support and approvalfor us to find a suitable location for the people who want or need to remain outside. They stated that they would work with us to draft and approve new ordinances and/or permitting processes but that Bison had their tacit approval to relocate in the meantime as a temporary solution. 

During the Council Meeting Thursday afternoon, Councilwoman Dennard agreed to convene a meeting on Monday with all key parties involved, including the leader of the tent city, Maslow's Army, the Homeless Coalition, downtown residents, the Acting City Manager, her and other Members of Council to discuss and agree to specific next steps for the smooth relocation of the residents of the tent city. Unfortunately, yesterday they refused to hold such a meeting and instead only hosted a choreographed photo op at the tent city. 

In hindsight, we should have required that these agreements be put in writing. We will be working with the Homeless Coalition and others to ensure that the City follows through on their commitment to treat these people with the compassion and dignity they deserve."

Sam Landis

Maslow's Army and the mayor of the homeless camp Bison Evans have been in negotiations with the city, Landis says. He says Duhaney and City Councilman Greg Landsman spent 45 minutes driving around the city scoping out locations where the 'tent city' could relocate.

Landsman says he and Duhaney did drive around with Landis and Bison Friday, but says they did not agree to let the camp relocate.

"No, the city's not in a position to give approval of a temporary location." said Landsman. Instead, he said he and the Acting City Manager were looking at sites for a potential longer term outdoor shelter space.

A resident of the 'tent city' says some people have moved to a new camp near Great American Ball Park but the location is a well-guarded secret.

Landsman said he's sorry, but the city won't have tent camps on public property, especially not downtown.

"What if they don't leave? Well, if they don't leave eventually we'll have to execute on the promise that we're going to evacuate locations. So, that will happen." said Landsman.

Landsman said a "vast majority" of campers are now in a temporary housing situation.

A mobile health clinic was on site Monday providing services to the homeless.

The city also had a portable toilet and Dumpster delivered.

The services were helping, Landis said Monday, expressing appreciation to city officials.

"Since this happened, five to six people have gone into drug and alcohol treatment facilities, 16 people have signed up for permanent and affordable housing and an additional 16 people received certificates to move into housing," he said.

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