Protest held at Charles Street homeless encampment
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) — Advocates gathered Tuesday afternoon at homeless encampment on Charles Street in Providence as concerns of an evacuation order loomed overhead.
The encampment at Charles Street is home to dozens of people living in tents. According to advocates with the Rhode Island Homeless Advocacy Project, they are all vulnerable to an order to vacate, meaning they would have 48 hours to gather all of their possessions and leave.
“What we’re demanding of Mayor Smiley, and we’ve been saying this to him for months now — if you’re going to issue vacate orders, make sure that people have humane alternatives in terms of shelter or housing,” explained Eric Hirsch with the Rhode Island Housing Advocacy Project.
“He’s done literally zero — nothing to make that happen,” Hirsch continued.
According to Mayor Smileys office, there is no vacate order in place. The office also provided ABC 6 News a statement about the encampment, which reads in part, “This particular encampment has been of grave concern given the proximity to the highway, the fires, and the now flooding, that have happened over the last few months.”
People living in the camp told ABC 6 News the past few weeks have been difficult, but a vacate order could be the last straw for some.
“Cops keep pulling in and harassing us,” said Mikki Adams, who has lived in the encampment for the last few months.
“It is — I can’t even tell you. My tent has flooded a few times. I have lost a lot of property due to the fact that it’s flooded. My boyfriend did build a trench and sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. So it is nerve-wracking,” Adams explained.
Adams is also five-months pregnant and told ABC 6 News she doesn’t know what she’d do if a vacate order came in.
According to the Mayor office, the city has invested more than $3M into housing and shelter beds in the last year.