By Christie Post - email
LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) – When the deep freeze hit Lubbock the homeless population set up loaned tents to combat the chilling weather. Now that temperatures are rising and the population has more than doubled, the city is asking the tent city to move.
One concern the city has is how close the community is to Avenue Q and Broadway, and how it could impact new businesses coming to Lubbock.
"We came out here on January 10th. It was a very cold night," said Clifford Vanlone, resident at tent city.
In one month, what started as a few tents quickly became 27. More than 30 people live in tents that cover the ground near the 1970 tornado memorial. And now they have stopped recruiting new members because of how many people live in such close quarters.
"We're not a bunch of mindless animals. We are just like everybody else and we ran a bad luck in life especially with the economy," said Joseph Brown, resident at tent city.
But this small city has rules, no drugs, no alcohol or violence and you must keep the area clean. They've survived on the support from the community.
"During the day they get up, pull themselves together look for work or go to work," said Vanlone.
But with the warmer temperatures the city council, along with the residents are concerned.
"They know in springtime parks get sprayed with fertilizer and they know the watering is coming. They are just as concerned as everyone," said Councilwoman Karen Gibson, Lubbock City Council.
Councilwoman Karen Gibson fears the tent city could impact downtown revitalization. "Businesses are trying to sign contracts with people. There are people flying into sign contracts with these buildings and they are leaving. It has nothing to do with the people that live there. But we're also losing opportunities for jobs coming into Lubbock," said Gibson.
"We do not want to be in anyone's way and we are," said Vanlone.
Now council members are looking for a solution and a place for those without a home to pitch their tents. "Where they're safe number one, where they can get to the facilities they need to go, where they can get to the services," said Gibson.
And the relocation does not bother those living in the small community. "In the last week we need to move this encampment and we want to find a better place for us. I think they were a little surprised to find us eager to move to a better place," said Vanlone.
As of right now councilwoman Karen Gibson and others are holding daily meetings with land owners to find a temporary or permanent spot for the next community. Gibson said she hopes to find a place within the next couple weeks or sooner.
If you would like to voice your concerns you can go to the homeless meeting Thursday at 11:30 a.m. at the Westminster Presbyterian Church on 3321 33rd.
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