CLEVELAND - There are concerns over what a development plan for The Flats could mean for Cleveland’s homeless community.
More than 30 people now live and camp along a section of the Cuyahoga River called "Irishtown Bend." It is the region roughly between West 25th Street in Ohio City, and the river itself.
Some have been there for nearly 20 years.
But now, plans are underway to clear it out for a park and to reinforce it to prevent further erosion.
Groups involved say they will help the homeless, while homeless advocates say, they have yet to see proof.
“Under the ‘Relocation Act,’ if there’s any federal money going into this project…there is the legal responsibility to relocate any residents that live down there,” said Chris Knestrick, director of the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless.
He believes public housing should not be the only option.
“This ‘one size fits all’ plan that everyone goes to permanent supportive housing is not the answer,” he said. “We need to come up with a plan for each individual to figure out what they want.”
He said that could mean sending some people back to their home states or even relocating them to another camp.
This summer Jay Wright began camping in Irishtown Bend with his wife.
“I sit out here and I just chill,” he said. “You know, I clean this area up every day.”
He said they moved there after a shelter would not allow them both, adding her medical condition forced him to stay by her side.
“I had to do what I had to do and she wanted to be around me,” he said.
On Thursday, he hopes to join others who are homeless at a public meeting on the project’s status. He wants to make sure people like him are not overlooked.
The meeting will be at the Breen Center at Saint Ignatius High School from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m.
All players in the project are expected to be there, with a presentation to the city’s planning commission scheduled for Friday.
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