CMPD, city advocates working to improve safety for areas surrounding Tent City

Nation and World News

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) – People who spend a lot of time in uptown Charlotte say they’re worried about their safety.

Some say violence has become more common in several areas, mostly among homeless people.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police are working to curb incidents in what’s known as ‘Tent City’ and are working to address the concerns of fights and crime.

This comes as a count begins to find out how people are living on the streets in Mecklenburg County.

As the population of people living in tent city grows, so does the concerns of neighbors when it comes to violence.

“At Glen Street Light Rail Station around dusk apparently there’s a collection of homeless hanging out there and sometimes they end up fighting,” said Bob Szymkiewicz with the First Ward Community Fund.

Szymkiewicz is an advocate with the group, tasked to help bridge the gap between the community and CMPD.

He said neighbors want to get involved and help the homeless but they want to feel safe doing it.

“Some folks have found that to be intimidating and other concerns that were brought up was lighting in First Ward Park, perhaps like a panic button in First Ward Park.”

Officials with Mecklenburg County said they will be counting the number of people staying in tents, shelters, and transit housing. The numbers will help get funding for affordable housing. Officials expect to count more than 3,000 homeless people this year in the county, up from prior years. 

“Dealing with our homeless population in the North End encampment Tent City around 12th, 11th, College, Tryon those places, there’s certainly a need, a robust response is needed,” CMPD Captain Brad Koch said.

Koch said addressing homelessness and crime is a top priority.

“I have a lot of officers working the area, we have community coordinators that are specifically directed to be in that area as well, we also have a full-time bike squad.”

Several resources from the department and community have been dedicated to making living in a tent a little more comfortable. Officials said they’ll continue to address fights and any violent crime in Tent City, but said the problem is much bigger.

“This is so much bigger than the police and it really takes a holistic community response to appropriately address this.”

There are dozens of non-profit groups helping homeless people with things like setting up tents. The question was asked whether or not that’s a violation.

CMPD said they will not be arresting anyone setting up a tent or helping, but will focus first on safety and people committing crimes.

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