Eviction nearing for homeless living in 'Tent City' - WBRC FOX6 News - Birmingham, AL

Eviction nearing for homeless living in 'Tent City'

Gary Tennant performing guitar with a fork at "Tent City." Gary Tennant performing guitar with a fork at "Tent City."

The deadline for homeless people to leave "Tent City" is nearing. They have until June 16 to pack up and leave. However, people who live there have concerns about the transition.

The land is owned by the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT), who said the decision to force the homeless to move was a hard one because they understand the struggles these people face. ALDOT Regional Director Johnny Harris said that fires, fights, and drug problems in the area have been a problem for a while.

The ALDOT is working with the Huntsville Police Department to help with the transition. Help is also coming from many different organizations and volunteers. Some have even set up transportation to help people move their things.

Huntsville Police Sergeant Mark Roberts said the ultimate goal is to get everyone off of the streets and into a more permanent housing arrangement, but he knows meeting that goal won't be easy.

As of Wednesday morning, many of the homeless already left.

"Some are moving to other areas. Some are moving and say they are probably moving out of town. So right now it looks like most will be able to meet their deadline," Roberts said.

However, some of the homeless are waiting until the last minute. One woman, Tina Davidson, is concerned that moving from "Tent City" will cause more problems.

"These folks don't know how to survive for themselves," Davidson said. "They don't know how to fix food or meals. They don't know how to do none of that because the church has been doing it for so long for them."

Gary Tennant, a man we found strumming a scratched guitar with a plastic fork, singing modified lyrics to a Lynyrd Skynyrd song, said he will likely stay with a friend in the immediate future. After that, he's not sure.

Sergeant Roberts said that if any of the homeless living in "Tent City" do not leave, they could be arrested for trespassing.  

If you or someone you know is going through a hard time or facing foreclosure, there are resources to help. A program called Hardest Hit Alabama helps people avoid foreclosure. The U.S. Department of Treasury's 'Hardest Hit Fund' is authorized under the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008. The Treasury allocated $162M to help financially-distressed homeowners in Alabama.

The HHA offers programs including mortgage payment assistance, loan modification assistance, and short-sale assistance. Help is available to qualified homeowners on a first-come, first-served basis. Learn more about HUD-approved counseling agencies in your area.

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