Monday, April 27, 2009

Tent City in Woonsocket, RI

Up north in Woonsocket, RI, a tent city has appeared in the courtyard of a Methodist Church (see the Projo and Woonsocket Call). Seems that they are struggling with protecting this encampment, regardless of its need. As of today, the people staying in the tents were forced to relocate. NPR has a quick blurb about the relocation, as did the Projo (below).

Woonsocket says church's homeless tents must go. (4/27/09, Projo News Blog - Paul Davis). WOONSOCKET, R.I. -- When Pastor Brian Souza sheltered the homeless in tents at his church on April 20, he had their safety in mind, he says. He also wanted to draw attention to Rhode Island's growing homeless population. He did -- but not in the way he hoped.

Last week, city officials said the homeless cannot sleep in the four dome tents Souza pitched in the courtyard of his church, called River United Methodist Communities.The tents are in a commercial, not a residential zone, Joel Mathews, the city's director of planning and development, said Monday. Even if they were part of a residence, the tents could only house family members, he said. "In that zone, we could cite him for a number of things," including safety and sanitary issues, Mathews said. Already, some businesses have complained, he added.

The 101-year-old church sits on Federal Street, a short road between Clinton and Main Streets, near the Blackstone River. Souza said he wants the city or state to find permanent homes for the six men, who are members of his church.


An update on the tent city in Woonsocket:

"Woonsocket pastor shuts down tent city at his church - WOONSOCKET -- Under orders from the city, the Rev. Brian J. Souza Thursday removed his campground for the homeless -- a handful of blue tents in the courtyard of his urban church.

It was a difficult decision, said Souza, pastor of the River-United Methodist Communities on Federal Street. The former cop pitched the tents on April 20 to house a half-dozen people, including a deaf woman and a 53-year-old veteran with a prosthetic leg. Souza said he wanted to create a safe haven for people who are down and out, and draw attention to the plight of the state's growing homeless population.

But on Monday, city officials ordered Mr. Souza to remove the tents. The tents, officials said, are in a commercial, not a residential zone.

The six homeless people "will go into the woods somewhere," said Mr. Souza, who plans to host a public forum on the problem later this month. The homeless need permanent housing, he said. "I'm talking to government officials and community leaders." (Projo. May 07, 2009, PaulDavis)"
For updates, see also: Tent City Related Posts.