Homeless advocates appeal tent city shutdown - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

Homeless advocates appeal tent city shutdown

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LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) -

The fate of the homeless living in Lubbock's Tent City is now in the hands of the city council.

This week Link Ministries, owners of the property, appealed a zoning and planning commission decision not to zone the area as a homeless shelter.

If council doesn't overturn the decision or delay a vote, the people staying there would be forced to leave.

"A couple businesses did say that they didn't want it in their backyard," Les Burrus with Link Ministries said.

Buddy Curry at the Curry Law Firm downtown says he rents property to a diesel company near Tent City. Curry tells us that company and his have seen an increase in thefts at their businesses since the homeless moved to the location off 13th Street and Avenue A.

Curry said they didn't report these offenses to the police and that he knows there's no proof that the people staying in Tent City committed the crimes, but he still believes the homeless' presence at the site is negatively impacting business.

The homeless moved to the new location in March of 2011. Lubbock police tell us that between March 2010 and September 30, 2010, when the homeless weren't at Tent City, there were 120 calls from that area. Since their stay in March to now, police say they've only received 88 calls from the area.

Lubbock councilwoman Karin Gibson is upset that the zoning and planning commission didn't zone the site as a shelter.

"I was just at Tent City and I asked them, where are you going, what are you going to do? Their answer to me was, 'We're back out on the streets.' - which tells me they're right back downtown on Broadway, they're right back down on Main Street and right back down on their door steps," Gibson said.

The council could opt to delay a vote until colder seasons pass. Burrus says they'd be glad to stay there through the winter, but he worries how a stalled decision could affect their plans to fix up the property with restrooms, showers, and other facilities.

"It delays people's willingness to give. It just puts us off 6 months for renovations we'd like to make because they're not going to be permanent. We don't know if this is going to be permanent or not so why invest money in a place that you don't have a lot of security in," Burrus said.

Burrus insists that Tent City is a temporary solution for the homeless as they try to get back on their feet. Since March Burrus says 99 people have stayed at Tent City. Burrus reports 32 people have found new places to stay, 21 are still there, 4 are in jail, and the others have left on their own accord.

Earlier this year the city appointed homelessness committee recommended that faith based organizations take care of the Hub City's homeless rather than passing the responsibilities on to taxpayers.

"They recommended that we let Link Ministries take care of this, and now were taking it away from them," Gibson said.

Link Ministries' appeal is tentatively scheduled to go before the city council on Oct. 27. Burrus encourages people to send their opinions to their elected council members.

Copyright 2011 KCBD NewsChannel 11

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