Let me tell you a little story about a tent city in the quaint hamlet of Akron Ohio

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Once upon a time there was a tent city in Akron Ohio.
It was not unlike the other tent cities all across the great country of America.
It was filled with intravenous drug users, dirty needles, meth addicts, crack heads, and most of all: alcoholics.
Tent city dwellers love their booze. There is a booze dealer on every corner. Every gas station, grocery store and convenient store is filled to the rim with sweet sweet booze. That’s because in the great country of America we like to belittle crackheads and meth heads. But gin and tonic guzzlers are just relaxing.
And don’t forget to ask your doctor about:

  • codeine (only available in generic form)
  • fentanyl (Actiq, Duragesic, Fentora)
  • hydrocodone (Hysingla ER, Zohydro ER)
  • hydrocodone/acetaminophen (Lorcet, Lortab, Norco, Vicodin)
  • hydromorphone (Dilaudid, Exalgo)
  • meperidine (Demerol)
  • methadone (Dolophine, Methadose)
  • morphine (Astramorph, Avinza, Kadian, MS Contin, Ora-Morph SR)
  • oxycodone (OxyContin, Oxecta, Roxicodone)
  • oxycodone and acetaminophen (Percocet, Endocet, Roxicet)
  • oxycodone and naloxone (Targiniq ER)

Your doctor can prescribe any of these drugs at any time.
Any way. As I was saying. Once upon a time there was a man that lived in this tent:

That’s right. People live in tents that look just like this.
The zippers to the door have been torn out long ago. If they are lucky they find a paperclip and hold the door shut at night so it’s not totally wide open.
They often don’t have all the poles to their tent.
They almost never have a tarp covering their tent. So it rains directly inside their tent.
They have no ground cover to put their tent on. So their leaky tent sits directly on the ground so not only does it rain ON them, rain pours into their tent from the bottom.
I’m sorry. I digress.
The man that once lived in that tent was named Silk. No one knows his “real” name. But that’s what his friends at the camp all called him.
One night, Silk was sleeping in the tent you see there.
In the middle of the night another homeless man (currently on the run from the law) who has significant mental health issues was hopped up on some drug.
He came down to Silk’s tent, with a hammer, and bludgeoned him repeatedly on the head with this hammer.
Here is a picture of Silk’s pillow that he was sleeping on that night:

We’ve lost track of Silk. The last we heard he was hanging on by a string at City Hospital.
This is the story of tent cities that exist all over the great land of America.
Death, violence, drugs, alcohol, disease, filth, lack of sanitation, trash. Truly hell on earth.
These are the places that every city in America will tell you that the homeless “have chosen to live in” therefore there is nothing they can do. NO ONE chooses to live like this. Being homeless is being choiceless.
These people are citizens of America and the cities of America. 
It is neither just or morally acceptable at any level that cities allow the poorest of the poor to live like this.
The answer they provide is never a solution. The answer is to close the camps.
This is a completely absurd move that defies all logic and common sense.
What do these cities believe will happen with these people after they kick them out of their current tent city? Do they think they will magically awake like Snow White and say, “Silly me. What was I doing living in a tent? I’m going to go live in a house.”
The wait list for housing in Akron has over 10,000 people on it. Getting into housing, if (and that’s a big if) you qualify, takes anywhere from 5 months to 3 years.
They have been kicked out of shelters. They can’t handle the strict rules of the shelters. They can’t function in that setting.
They have no family. Their family is dead. They have no friends with homes. They have no place to go other than another tent community.
But now they need to start all over again. They have to rebuild again. And then they just wait for the next time they get kicked out again.
The good news is we have adopted this particular tent city. We now have them signed up with the Food Bank and we deliver them food. We are getting them better tents. We are getting them tarps. We will get their tents off the ground. We will clean up all the trash.
We will help them when no one in positions of authority and responsibility will. No other shelters are helping them. And certainly no one from the city is helping them.
They are just left there to fester and die.
The moral of the story is:
These hell on earth tent cities are the product of city administrations that turn a blind eye to the poorest of the poor. The weakest of the weak.
Second Chance Village is a transitional stepping stone to get those people out of that hell and put them in a community that loves them and supports them. We work with all the other agencies in the city to help with mental health issues, addiction issues. The health department comes here regularly to talk to us about communicable diseases. We demand everyone use hand sanitizer before the touch any food. We have gotten trained and have on hand Narcan to treat people from opiate overdoses.
We have a shower and laundry facility they are free to use.
We have been given a grant by the Akron Community Foundation to start a recovering opiate users experiencing homelessness program.
This is what our tent city looks like:

Oh, and here is a picture of our community on Thanksgiving Day:

We are a safe place for women. We are alcohol and drug free. We require everyone to contribute 1 hour a day to the village. And we require that people show proof that they are moving forward in their lives. They need to show proof that they are going to their mental health professionals, to their addiction programs, that they are working on getting a job.
But most of all we are a community. We love each other and help each other to succeed.
We want people to move on from here. We want them in housing. We are just the stepping stone to get them on the way.

The best way you can support the work we do at The Homeless Charity is by becoming a Patron for as little as $1/month. It shows the government people care about the homeless and it helps us manage our budget a lot easier. Please click here: Become a Patron!

4 thoughts on “Let me tell you a little story about a tent city in the quaint hamlet of Akron Ohio

  1. Sage.
    You just don’t realize the impact of your work. And bringing to light the ugly truth of the homeless and forgotten souls.
    You also have no idea how any one of these stories will end.
    Getting mental health care. Getting addicts in treatment, caring for the homeless in your own yard.
    Each has a story. Some may try to judge them. I pray most will just lend a hand in someway. Jesus wouldn’t judge but be there feeding, clothing, helping minister to them and listening to their story.
    I know of many good stories to come out of your efforts. I am going to pray I too have a personal one to share soon. But it’s all because of you and Eric.
    But many more stories are to come of people helping each other .
    This I pray touched hearts. I pray for more tents. But I pray even more for homes. For healing and for a Villiage to come together and share stories. We are not so different.
    God Bless you. Your staff and volunteers that help the poorest. You never know if you are entertaining Angels unaware.

  2. I know you don’t know who I am, but this is an issue of great personal importance to me. I am deeply moved, proud, and grateful of and for folks like you remembering that these are human people. I work a great deal with the homeless veteran population, and the thing I’ve learned after this time is that most often, people aren’t homeless because of something they did.
    Most often it’s because of something that was done to them.
    What choices they make after those events begin is impossible to armchair quarterback, you really do never know until you’re actually there.
    So thank you for this. I am not a christian, but bless you anyway. The work you do saves lives.

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