AKRON — The city of Akron's 60-day plan to help connect and find housing for homeless residents of Second Chance Village has been extended.
The move means the residents will not be forced out of the tent city by Thanksgiving.
"We were never going to walk in at 60 days and say 'this is the end and now you have to go,'" said Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan in an interview with WKYC Tuesday afternoon. "We're going to continue to move forward and give everyone that option to be able to get into housing."
The city and the Continuum of Care (CoC) came together to implement the plan to help find housing for the 46 residents of Second Chance Village. It came after Akron City Council voted against the rezoning of the 15 Broad St. location where the tent city had been operating for about two years.
"Living in a tent, whether through the winter or the summer is just not a dignified way to do it," said Horrigan. "As we’re moving into the winter again, there are housing options out there for people."
Since the plan was put in place, CoC reports that 32 individuals have been housed with 10 individuals left at Second Chance Village. Half of the individuals left are already set up to secure housing within the next two weeks. Several others have left the tent city or have returned to family.
CoC hopes to have six out of the 10 individuals left in homes by the end of the two-week extension. The final four may take additional time to house but the CoC said there are emergency options to help with shelter. After the extension, CoC staff members are expected to return to their traditional roles to help others outside of Second Chance Village find housing.
The city has approved a two-week extension to help with the last group at the tent city.
"We want people in housing," said Keith Stahl, director of operations at Community Support Services and board member with Continuum of Care. "We believe it’s a fundamental human right."
The process of helping someone find a home is a difficult and complicated process, according to Stahl. He noted that there can be a variety of challenges that people face, but also says that organizations, like Community Support Services and local shelters, are working to break through those barriers to get people into a home.
"They may have a legal issue that prevents a landlord from accepting them, but it doesn’t mean the next landlord won’t," said Stahl.
But even as the efforts continue, Stahl said it's not something that can be solved overnight.
"If we solved every person’s homeless issue today, we would still have more tomorrow," said Stahl. "It’s not about fixing one individual, it’s about making homelessness brief and episodic."
In October, Sage Lewis, the founder and operator of Second Chance Village and the Homeless Charity, and the Institute for Justice filed a constitutional lawsuit in hopes of keeping tent city open.
READ MORE I Akron's tent city files lawsuit to stay open
Despite the battle to keep Second Chance Village open, Lewis remains optimistic and said there is still more work ahead.
"I’m happy that we are housing these people, but this will never end," said Lewis. "This is a constant thing. We can’t quit. And the amount of energy that it's taken to house these people, it needs to continue to happen."