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City of Akron begins clearing out homeless camps on public property, starting with Grace Park

Updated: Jun. 21, 2021 at 1:49 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Sage Lewis is a homeless advocate for the Houseless Movement. He’s upset about the city of Akron’s latest decision.

For the last 14 months, the city said it would not break up homeless camps on public property.

That has changed this week.

The city will clear out the camps, starting at Grace Park on Perkins street.

“This is a nightmare; American homelessness in the richest country,” Lewis said.

Signs were posted across Grace Park in downtown Akron, warning people living here that they had to get out.

19 News reached out to the city of Akron to be fair.

Eufrancia Lash is the deputy director of public service and neighborhood assistance.

He said the city stopped its policy last year because they wanted to avoid putting large groups in homeless shelters where COVID-19 could easily spread.

“We’re trying to do the best that we can by engaging in a compassionate transition,” Lash said.

He added that since Ohio is ending its state of emergency, Akron is also changing its rules.

“We respect those viewpoints and those opinions, but as a municipality, we have a responsibility as well we also have ordinances that we want to uphold,” he said.

Lewis had also said the temporary housing vouchers being given to the people in Grace Park don’t solve their problems since they are still being rejected as tenants.

Lash said those vouchers are being given out by Community Support Services, not the city of Akron.

19 News reached out to CSS, but didn’t hear back.

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