All belongings must be removed from Derrick Street Homeless Camp following eviction

Today is the last day for anyone who lived there to return and pick up what they left behind before the camp is off limits.
Published: Aug. 1, 2022 at 1:06 PM CDT
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - Monday is the last day for anyone who lived in the Derrick Street Homeless Encampment to return and pick up what they left behind before the camp is off limits according to homeless advocate Emma Steeleman, the Executive Director of Love Huntsville.

In past camp evictions, like the Mill Street Camp eviction, the people who lived at the camps had to bring all of their property with them on the eviction date.

Steeleman says it’s logistically difficult because all of their property is at this camp and they don’t have the means to move it. A spokesperson for the city said that the residents in this camp and previous camps were given several months notice before the move.

Steelman says some people have lived there for upwards of five years and have all of their possessions on them. Then, when they are told to move, they don’t have cars or Uhauls to drive all of their things to another location.

A city spokesperson says the people were offered help with packing, loading and moving their belongings weeks, if not months before the actual move date. The spokesperson adds the people were offered access to health care, shelter and even help reuniting with family members and many people chose not to accept the services.

Steeleman says people have lost a lot of their belongings in past evictions because the city would come within 24 to 48 hours and bulldoze the area, destroying the items they left behind. Plus, she says, they put up no trespassing signs so people can risk arrest if they return to pick up their things.

“Folks can lose medical records, medical equipment, sentimental items and that’s just devastating when you’ve just lost your home basically,” said Steeleman. “Then you’ve just lost things that are really meaningful or beneficial to you.”

She says her organization, Love Huntsville along with several other local groups partnered with national organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union and the Southern Poverty Law Center to sue the city. In the lawsuit, they write that the city is going against Center for Disease Control Guidelines and putting the health of unhoused people in danger.

The lawsuit did not stop the eviction but Steeleman says they are exploring other legal routes with the lawsuit.

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