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It’s like starting from square one, homeless say as more camps closed in Asheville

<i>WLOS</i><br/>Last week
Last week

By Taylor Thompson

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    ASHEVILLE, North Carolina (WLOS) — Last week, the city of Asheville gave notice to residents of several homeless camps along Interstate 240 that they needed to relocate as the city will be cleaning up the sites by Tuesday.

It’s like starting from square one, homeless say as more camps closed in Asheville

The few who remained at the encampments on Monday said they were tired and frustrated at the idea of having to move once again.

Roman Kelly, who lived behind Haywood Street Congregation along I-240, had just moved following the notice.

He said it’s difficult given that all the resources are downtown.

Haywood Street Congregation pastor Brian Combs said the church has been a long-time safe haven for those who feel displaced.

“It’s simply harder and harder to be poor in Asheville,” Combs said, adding that the church intends to always be a place of welcome where all can gather.

The church has experienced an increasing number of people needing a place to camp.

Combs said life is hard enough for those who live in poverty, and their lives are made even harder when they have to be constantly on the move.

While Combs empathized with city officials having to maintain public safety, he believes low-barrier shelters and affordable housing are vital ways to respond to the homeless crisis.

Roman said the city could do more, such as allow for a tent city where many homeless could reside without the fear of being kicked out.

“My bag — weighing about 80 pounds right now with a tent, backpack and stuff — it’s very difficult to move from one place to the next, to set up again and once I’m set up be told I have to move again,” Roman said.

The church said it will always be an urban sanctuary and officials hope the rest of the city will be more accommodating, as well.

“I pray that Asheville will continue to be a city that welcomes folks that again don’t feel like they have a seat at the table anywhere else,” Combs said.

Roman is one of many who feel as though they are starting from square one every time a camp gets shut down and they hope to see the city do more to help.

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