Growing Concerns for Those Living in North Charlotte “Tent City”

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – There are growing concerns for people living in what’s become known as “tent city” in North Charlotte.

A new lawsuit is demanding the city and county clear part of the encampment.

“Most of the people that are out there are just trying to get back on their feet. They just need a little help,” explains Bethany McDonald with the non-profit Hearts Beat As One.

She and other volunteers spend time organizing coats, blankets, food, and toiletries for those living in “tent city.”

They go there several times a week to help those in need.

“They don’t have the income. And with COVID and the quarantining a lot of them lost weeks of work. So whoever was in small housing, they don’t have the funds or resources,” McDonald says.

But now pressure is growing from property owners and those who say a “tent city” is not sustainable long term.

The owner of two acres at 900 North Tryon Street filed a lawsuit Monday arguing the city and county should declare the encampment a nuisance and clear it.

“There are property rights and things, and I don’t know how that is going to turn out, but these folks desperately need help,” says former Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts.

She argues local leaders need to step up to lead a greater mobilization effort.

“It’s going to take leadership stepping up and really coordinating this response so that we are meeting some of the these emergency needs,” she says. “Maybe there’s a place that’s dry where you could put heaters up, that you could put services in one place and really try to get folks stabilized.”

She suggests places like empty big box stores to house those currently living in “tent city.”

There aren’t many other options right now.

Local shelters have wait lists and programs like “Room at the Inn” aren’t operating this year due to COVID concerns.