By the end of the week, Tent City will be no more. Starting on Monday, those still in Tent City are being relocated to the Housing Transition Center in North Charleston. City leaders are optimistic about the potential for the facility, but reviews are mixed from former Tent City residents.
Cynthia Loftis moved into the Housing Transition Center from Tent City on Monday.
She says, “I’ve given up hope.”
Loftis pulled News 2 aside today to say she is worried about moving into temporary housing.
She says, “I felt safer out there than I do in here.”
One of her friends also moved into the facility and says some people are afraid the transitional housing will be, basically, jail. But that woman was more optimistic, excited by the chance to have a hot shower, watch TV and have help finding an apartment of her own.
Charleston Police Department Chief Greg Mullen says, “This is a good opportunity for all of these individuals to get services that they may not have been getting downtown.”
At the center will be resources for housing, jobs, and signing up for benefits. Plus, bathrooms, lockers, and a place to do laundry. The city has a deadline of 60 days to find approximately 30 people permanent housing. Chief Mullen says considering in two months the population of Tent City has dropped from 115 to 30, it’s definitely possible.
He says, “I think that if we continue to push forward, and continue to exercise a sense of urgency in terms of this situation, then we will be able to accomplish what we are trying to do.”
There will be some rules, a curfew by 10pm, and no weapons, drugs, or alcohol allowed inside. A security guard will be on hand 24 hours a day. If anyone moves back to Tent City, there will be consequences.
Chief Mullen says, “There’s a state law that allows you to camp on a public roadway for 48 hours. Once we get everyone out, we will begin to enforce that code.”
He says it will start with a notice, and refusal to move could ultimately result in an arrest.
But Mullen says, “That is what we do not want to do. We have not arrested anybody there at this time, other than for a criminal violation, and we don’t want to do that. But at the same time, we cannot allow this situation to develop again.”
With resources readily within reach, the city hopes to take a step toward solving the homeless issue and restoring some hope.
Loftis says, “I just don’t know what I’m going to do.”
The facility is already set up as a shelter option, as it was used as a warming shelter for the county this winter. The city is paying Charleston County $1 for 60 days, plus covering utilities and maintenance of the property. Move-ins started Monday and will continue through the week with Tent City shut down by Saturday.