City Will Address Concerns Over 'Tent City' Closure

City Will Address Concerns Over 'Tent City' Closure

4:43pm Mar 15, 2021
The Tent City homeless encampment on Akron Drive in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Photo courtesy of Frankie Gist.

The city of Winston-Salem has put a pause on using enforcement to remove individuals from a homeless encampment known as "Tent City," but is still planning to shut down the site.

Homeless individuals have been gathering in a patch of woods near the intersection of Patterson Avenue and Akron Drive for the past few years. Last week, police received a report of criminal activity on the property and the city made a sudden closure announcement. The shutdown deadline was Friday. At that point, at least half a dozen people remained.

City manager Lee Garrity says they won’t use police to remove occupants until they have discussed alternatives and resources for the campers.

Frankie Gist is the founder of HOPE Dealers Outreach and has been working with the homeless population at the encampment. He says more collaboration is needed to address a growing issue in a growing city.

"It really shook up the residents and not only the residents, but the people who were literally helping out to come give these residents a better life," says Gist. "But my thing is we have to work together. There are a lot of resources in this city that can be used to tackle homelessness."

City leaders estimate there are more than 140 people living at approximately 10 to 12 tent campsites across Winston-Salem.

A press conference by the city in order to provide more information has been postponed. 

*Editor's Note: This story has been updated to reflect the fact that a press conference originally scheduled for Tuesday morning has been postponed.

*Follow WFDD's Keri Brown on Twitter @kerib_news

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