On Feb. 1, a homeless camp under an I-240 bridge in the City limits was removed. The action did not align with the City of Asheville’s typical practice in handling homeless camps. The City Manager’s Office met with Division 13 North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) staff Feb. 2 to fully understand what occurred and to develop a plan to keep this from happening in this manner in the future.
The City received a communication through the Asheville App (tool used for citizens to report concerns) with a picture of the camp. Because the camp was located on NCDOT property, the complaint was forwarded to our contacts within that agency. NCDOT staff had also received complaints from other sources about this location and made the decision to remove it, based upon safety concerns.
NCDOT staff called Asheville Police Department (APD) around noon on Feb. 1 to request assistance in notifying individuals at the camp that the tents would be removed by NCDOT. When APD arrived on-scene NCDOT staff were already in the process of clearing the site of debris and litter.
APD did not initiate or assist with the removal of the camp. APD reached out to community partners they typically work with to make sure resources were available for the people being displaced. APD officers also offered to transport individuals to overnight facilities.
Individuals were then given the opportunity to remove their belongings before the NCDOT clean up began. it is our understanding that a majority of the individuals did so.
The City Manager’s Office will be meeting again with NCDOT staff later this week to continue the conversation on how to improve communications and collaboration to lessen the impact on our most vulnerable population.