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Huntsville searching for new approach to homelessness as North Derrick camp nears closing

The city of Huntsville will evict the homeless camp on North Derrick Street next Friday. Before this happens, city officials are looking into a new approach to
Published: Jun. 23, 2022 at 7:37 AM CDT
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - Huntsville charities met with James Whitford of True Charity this week to learn new ways to help the homeless.

Despite the heat, there are still many people living in the North Derrick homeless camp, which the city has deemed too dangerous. The camp will be closed next Friday, June 1st.

Huntsville’s charities are investigating a different approach to handling the challenges homeless people face. Whitford’s approach, which the city hopes to implement, is focused on building people up instead of giving material things to them.

“What we do with the process of reciprocity, it’s change for people who are in need,” said Whitford. “We found that it’s a much more dignifying experience for a person who even needs the basics like food, shelter, and clothing.”

Whitford believes the less fortunate should not simply be handed material goods with nothing else.

“Though handouts may feel good, they don’t do good. Repetitive handouts create dependency.”

City Council Member Jennie Robinson spoke on the importance of the safety of every Huntsville resident including those who are homeless.

“I think the city has established a policy that we don’t want people living in the conditions that they are living in at Derrick North Camp,” said Robinson. “It is not acceptable to live in this camp. It is unhealthy and unsafe.”

Robinson said the city estimates over 500 people are homeless. 40 people currently live in Derrick North, and the city also estimates 100 temporary beds are currently available for them.

Another camp, South Derrick, will remain open for shelter as the city works to address the larger issue.

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