The closing of Camp Take Notice

Until today, when I read about the police shutting it down, I was unaware of the tent city behind Arborland Mall known as Camp Take Notice. Apparently the big crackdown by authorities came on Wednesday, when Caleb Poirier, the leader of the camp, which is said to have between 30 and 60 inhabitants, was arrested for trespassing. Much more on the subject can be found at the Ann Arbor Chronicle, Fox 2 Detroit, and AnnArbor.com. I don’t have anything to add to what’s being said elsewhere, but I wanted to be sure to pass along the links, as it’s clearly a problem that we need to address as a community. With winter coming, and having only enough capacity to house a small percentage of our homeless population, we’re going to have to make some difficult decisions in a relatively short period of time.

I imagine there would be liability issues, but one wonders if perhaps a private landowner could allow individuals such as these, assuming they abide by certain rules, to live on his or her land. Then, on extremely cold nights, perhaps we could open a high school gymnasium for their use, the way we would for homeowners, should their homes be put in jeopardy by flood or fire. I know it’s not optimal. I know there are sanitation and public health issues, and any number of other things to be concerned about, but, if it’s true that we have several times more homeless citizens than we have capacity in our shelters, isn’t it worth considering? Or, would we rather that they just stay spread out and hidden away, where we can’t see them, so that we can pretend that they don’t exist?

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9 Comments

  1. YpsiPawz
    Posted September 3, 2009 at 10:54 pm | Permalink

    Your post reminded me of an article I recently read in the NY times. It gives an interesting perspective to those who view tent cities as a nuisance.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/31/us/31land.html

  2. Kim
    Posted September 4, 2009 at 7:30 am | Permalink

    One of the articles online mentioned that inhabitants of the tent city had at one point considered relocation to the University of Michigan diag. That, I imagine, could create some PR problems for the school.

  3. Kristin
    Posted September 4, 2009 at 7:37 am | Permalink

    I heard about this on WUOM this morning. An advocate was talking about local churches signing on as “land providers” so the tents wouldn’t be disrupted. That would be great. There are assorted hosting programs now, so some of the framework exists. Of course there’s the winter thing, but something is better than nothing.

  4. Cristina
    Posted September 4, 2009 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    Audio of the NPR report can be heard here:

    http://www.publicbroadcasting.net/michigan/news.newsmain/article/1/0/1550598/Michigan.News/Homeless.Tent.Sites.Pop.Up

  5. Posted September 5, 2009 at 2:03 am | Permalink

    In California and some other states, the armories (used by the National Guard, I believe) are often set up as emergency shelters for the homeless in winter.

  6. Posted September 8, 2009 at 7:38 pm | Permalink

    Now that I have a yard again I would probably entertain the idea of hosting a few tenters if it weren’t getting so cold at night or if I had a suitable barn-like structure for providing shelter.

    If they’re all abiding by the CTN rules I would have to believe that they would follow someone’s house rules. That’s the neighborly thing to do, right?

    I just can’t help but think that no government program is going to reach out to these people just because it’s approaching fall quickly. Too bad there’s not more that private citizens can do.

  7. Posted November 19, 2009 at 10:04 pm | Permalink

    From AnnArbor.com:

    …The Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously in committee Wednesday night to provide $175,000 as part of an emergency response to a growing homelessness crisis in the county. The money will be used to fund 10 year-long housing vouchers with supportive services for families experiencing homelessness. County officials said the goal is to get the families into supportive housing…

  8. Mary Craig
    Posted November 11, 2011 at 6:41 am | Permalink

    If only they had called themselves Occupy Ann Arbor…… Am I the only one that has an issue with the fact that, up until a few weeks ago, if any homeless people had tried to set up a tent in Liberty Square Park, they would have been run off, but, now, there doesn’t seem to be a problem with it? Is it because the Occupy movement is so high profile, or is it because now we’re talking about middle class, predominantly white people?

  9. wetdolphinmissile
    Posted November 11, 2011 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    I think that the difference is about free speech. OW is protesting. The homeless just wanted to survive. Right or wrong? I have notice that OW has been very diverse.

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