City responds to eviction of homeless from downtown riverfront

Two homeless people move their belongings after being evicted from downtown riverfront property in Fort Wayne on Thursday, November 14.

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – On Thursday, about a dozen homeless people who were living outside on riverfront property received eviction notices that stated they were violating a city ordinance by staying in a tent on city property, near the river. The notice says they have 24 hours to move, or they could be arrested and have their belongings thrown away.

Just a few days later, city and community leaders held a press conference to kick off Hunger and Homeless Awareness Week. At the event, NewsChannel 15 asked Mayor Tom Henry what he thought about about Thursday’s evictions. He said it was the first he had heard of it.

“I’m going to have to check with our police department to find out truly what caused them to be in a position like this,” Henry said on Monday. “If it was complaint-driven, obviously there were citizens in our community that were concerned, but I’ll need to check in with it more.”

On Monday NewsChannel 15 handed Mayor Henry a copy of the eviction notices almost a dozen homeless people received.
On Monday, NewsChannel 15 handed Mayor Henry a copy of the eviction notices almost a dozen homeless people received.

Since then, the city has released a statement on the evictions. The following is the entire statement provided by the City of Fort Wayne on Tuesday: 

We are fortunate to be part of a giving and caring community. By working together, we’re experiencing unprecedented momentum. We enjoy strong neighborhoods and an excellent quality of life. We are aware of some concerns that have been expressed about the treatment of homeless individuals in our community. Whenever our Fort Wayne Police Department is requested to intervene in a situation involving the homeless, it’s done in a professional and courteous manner. Our officers provide individuals with information and access to assistance before any action is ever taken. We care about the homeless population and work collaboratively with social service agencies daily to ensure food and shelter are available for those who are seeking help. The City Administration works each day to provide opportunities for all residents in Fort Wayne. Our proactive efforts include participation on the Fort Wayne Area Planning Council on Homelessness, as well as working to secure federal funding to assist with programs that benefit those in need of support. We will continue our commitment to being a City that cares for one another. We encourage all residents of Fort Wayne to do their part to help those struggling with homelessness by volunteering or making a donation to one of our community’s shelters.

The statement opposes how homeless person Tyler Williams told 15 Finds Out he received the eviction notice. Williams said he only received the eviction, no resources, and his tent was broken after being there four months.

“I had already been told by other cops I was allowed to be there,” Williams said.

The next Planning Council on Homelessness meeting is December 15 at 11:30 a.m. in the Citizens Square Omni Room.

Tyler Williams, 18, was one of almost a dozen homeless people who received the eviction notices. He checked into the Rescue Mission Monday night.
Tyler Williams, 18, was one of almost a dozen homeless people who received the eviction notices. He checked into the Rescue Mission Monday night.

Anyone interested in helping out the homeless are invited to participate in some of the following events for Hunger and Homeless Awareness Week:

  •  A Tour of several of the facilities in Fort Wayne where people can seek shelter and be connected to programs to help move them to self-sufficiency is set for Wednesday, November 19 at noon. This van tour takes starts in the parking lot across from the University of Saint Francis Robert Goldstine Performing Arts Center (former Scottish Rite), 431 W. Berry St.
  • The “Real Change” Pop-Up Arts Event is scheduled for Wednesday, November 19 from 5-9 p.m. at Wunderkammer, 3402 Fairfield Ave. The public is encouraged to attend this first-of-its-kind event where people will interact with local artists whose work features the topic of homelessness. Work created by homeless artists will also be exhibited. This event is designed to engage attendees in ongoing conversation about the community and how each individual can do something to address the challenge of homelessness. The event is free, but donations of non-perishable food items are welcome.
  • Skip a Lunch, Feed a Bunch is scheduled for Thursday, November 20. On this day, everyone is invited to donate the money they would typically spend on lunch to the Rescue Mission, which provides more than 217,000 meals a year to anyone who needs them.

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