Tent shortage complicates the plight of the homeless

Ohio County

WHEELING, W. Va. (WTRF) – One of the parts of the judge’s ruling about homeless camps was that they would get two weeks’ notice before the city would tear out the camps.

If anyone was still there when the city crews arrived, they would be given another two hours to gather their belongings and leave.

But, after the two-week notice and the two hours grace period, the city crews are then to go forward and sweep the camp.

U.S. District Court Judge John Preston Bailey ruled the city workers will not sift through or save any of the homeless people’s items.

He wrote that because there is no running water, their belongings could be “infested with fecal matter or pests.”

One advocate for the homeless said there is a tent shortage right now.

Kate Marshall of the House of Hagar said once a person’s tent is gone, it’s gone.

It’s very hard to get tents right now because of COVID. So, after the destruction of a tent, we don’t know when we can replace that tent. We do have some amazing agencies that are able to offer certain individuals housing or shelter spaces, but there are barriers that don’t allow it to benefit everybody who’s experiencing homelessness in our community.

Kate Marshall, House of Hagar

The judge wrote that there is no fundamental right to sleep outside on someone else’s property.

He wrote that the need for public safety and sanitation is the priority.

He also said one woman was left dead in her tent for four days.

And he said some camps are surrounded by booby traps intended to hurt people who entered.

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