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Volunteers needed to break down "Tent City" in Chattanooga

Residents, and their tents, are set to be removed from "Tent City" on Saturday. The City of Chattanooga has determined the soil off of 11th Street where the homeless camp is established is hazardous.

The Chattanooga Community Kitchen needs your help relocating about 100 homeless people.

The specific need is in breaking down tents in "Tent City" off of 11th Street.

About 20 people are needed to meet at Community Kitchen Saturday morning at 9 o'clock.

Heather Kwon, who volunteers with Relevant Hope, will be leading the charge.

Kwon has come to know a lot of the people living in Tent City.

During the week of March 12, she helped set up about 115 tents here.

Now, they're coming down by order of the city.

The next three days are going to be tough. Kwon explained, "When we set these tents up we gave a lot of hope to people. They were so excited that they had a tent and that they had shelter. Now it's being taken away from 'em and they're starting to lose hope again."

NewsChannel 9 spoke with three people staying here and found that to be true.

Melvin Pendergrass said, "They put us out here and then they tell us we gotta leave. Why would you wanna do that stuff to people?"

The city determined the ground is contaminated and unsafe to live on.

The long term future for several of them could be complicated.

Kwon pointed to specific examples, "There's quite a few people here in wheelchairs or with canes or mental handicaps, they don't have anywhere else to go."

The Community Kitchen will provide the short term relief. "The Community Kitchen is going to open starting tomorrow as a shelter, so everybody can go and stay at the Community Kitchen for 15 days while housing applications get processed," Kwon said.

Those applications are for after the 15 day relief.

And some people will be reissued tents, then relocated.

But the group we talked to is not hopeful.

Pendergrass noted, "I got no place else to go but back on the street"

Linda Cross said, "What am I going to do? We don't know. We really don't know what we're going to do." Chuck Harris added, "We're going to survive, that's all you can do."

It will take all day to break down these 100 something tents.

Bring gloves, maybe a hammer and bottled water.

Volunteers are also needed to help filling out housing form applications.

Some of the tents will be logged to reissue for those who will continue to live outside.

Now if you get here after 9:00 Saturday morning, walk across 11th street and up to the railroad bridge.

Tent City is about 80 yards off the street.

For any additional questions, contact Heather Kwon at (423) 443-7708

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