Local Gainesville Tent City Forced To Close Back In June

Seeing that previous CNN article brought this one to mind that I saw this summer in the Alligator.

The first paragraph read:

Residents of the Tent City homeless community have been served eviction notices following a stabbing last week, but no housing alternatives have been offered for the mini-city’s nearly 200 inhabitants.

Yet again we run into the problem: where are these people going to go? It’s another example of there not being enough support to handle the number of homeless in the area:

Tent City residents who asked the city for help were referred to the Office of Homelessness for a place to go, but according to Gunn, there is no place for the displaced residents to go.

“From my perspective, there’s not much city support,” she said. “There’s no funding for all of these people. At least Tent City was a place for them to go.”

An advocate for the homeless paints the rosy side of the picture:

[Amanda Gunn, a local Faces of Homelessness spokeswoman] talked about a Tent City man who built a house with insulation, a kitchen and a bedroom all from scraps he found at a construction site.

But the self-proclaimed mayor of Tent City can’t take his home with him, just as many residents can’t carry everything that they own on their backs.

“There are a lot of personal items they are just expected to walk away from,” Gunn said.

But’s not all sunshine and roses, either. Things can and do get rough when people fend for themselves. The article balances both sides of the issue fairly well:

However, Gainesville Police Department spokesman Keith Kameg said the eviction is about more than one incident.

“It’s not just about the stabbing,” Kameg said. “This is not a healthy or safe environment. The owners have a genuine concern for the people and don’t want to see people get hurt.”

Crime has also increased in the area, according to Kameg. Drugs are being sold, prostitution has taken a foothold and stolen property is being taken to the area, he said.

Many people point to stuff like this as reason for more government involvement. The reasoning goes along the lines of getting the people into normal low-cost housing in hopes that we wouldn’t have so many problems. That, of course, takes money. And who’s going to pay? Who decides how it’s spent?

In the end, this is why homelessness is such a difficult issue to solve. It’s a complex social and economical situation only made worse by heaping tons of preconceptions and misconceptions on top of it. I don’t think there’s an easy answer, but like with most things, it starts by being better informed.

Through the book and this site, that’s what I hope to do.

Alligator.org: Tent City residents will be evicted Thursday (Tuesday, June 9, 2009)

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