Akron Struggles with a Tent City and the Bigger Question of Homelessness

Jun 17, 2018
Originally published on June 15, 2018 7:15 pm

Akron City Council is not likely to decide until this fall what to do about a tent city of homeless people on the city’s east side. WKSU’s M.L. Schultze reports on a struggle by city planners and others to find an answer:

Advocates for Second Chance Village cheered and elebrated the announcement that the Akron Planning Commission would delay a vote on the tent city’s future until next month.

An overflow crowd mostly of supporters had spent more than an hour arguing that the encampment – which is operating illegally – is the only option left for about four-dozen people. Sage Lewis – who owns the property and set up the tent city about a year and a half ago – said he doesn’t see the project as a long-term solution, which is why he wanted the delay.

“Just the acknowledgement that we need to think about this just a little bit more is a huge success in homelessness in America as opposed to just saying no. So I see this as a wild success.”

Akron spokeswoman Ellen Lander Nischt says the city has been trying to find solutions, including giving its support for the adjacent building Lewis operates as a kind of homeless service center.

“The city has always been supportive of that building as a drop-in center, a day center, as any sort of homeless provider. That is not an issue in this proceeding. It’s really the tents in the back yard.”

She says Lewis has been offered a former battered women’s shelter in the area for sleeping quarters The tent city has been operating for about a year-and-a-half. 

Neighbors complain the tent city is a nuisance that attracts crime and other problems to the area.

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