Earlier this year, 18 homeless people called Tent City home. Home was a community of tents and lean-to tarps set up by the river, warmed by scattered fire pits and furnished with discarded recliners and grocery-store shopping carts.
“We’re doing good here sometimes,” one resident told a News-Press reporter. “We try to keep as clean as we can.”
But the area, near Fourth and Monterey streets, was an eyesore for many in the community. Through a collaborative effort of social service agencies, Tent City is now a ghost town — a bare clearing in the middle of small, gnarled trees, with a few empty pop containers and a makeshift memorial to a friend who died there last winter. Many of its residents have been placed in permanent or temporary housing or in treatment facilities.
“The one person who was left there and didn’t want to move, they finally found a place for him. Now he is a resident of St. Joseph Haven,” said David Howery, executive director of InterServ.
Last summer, the homeless population in the city rose to 186, according to the St. Joseph Continuum of Care. Mr. Howery said agencies like the Salvation Army, the YWCA, the Judah Hose and Haven House stepped up their efforts to provide housing and services for Tent City and other homeless residents.
“I am grateful for the community’s response. We really had a whole change in the system,” Mr. Howery said. “I think we have done a good job, but you’re never there.”
Alonzo Weston can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @SJNPWeston.