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State officials close tent city in Ann Arbor

About 70 homeless people stayed at the tent city known as Camp Take Notice. But they were told to pack up and move out.

“You know, right now, this whole situation is very surreal. It feels like we are just going through the motions...I’m really going to miss it, you know, I’m just gonna miss the people," said Mary Contrucci.

Scott Ellinger and his girlfriend lived at the camp for a few months. He said, "It was a tight-knit community here, we were like family. Everybody looked out for each other."

"We really haven’t had any major problems out here. Except for a few minor incidences. We had one fire, which was accidental," said Ellinger.

It’s accidents like the fire that broke out a few months ago that state officials want to avoid. Sally Harrison is director of Rental Assistance and Homeless Solutions for the Michigan State Housing Development Authority.

She said, “It’s not a place for people to live. People don’t choose to live in tents, they are forced to go. I think that folks think they have a little bit more control of their lives because they’re there, but they don’t have running water, they don't have facilities, and in many respects they are isolated from the rest of us.”

Harrison said at least 33 campers signed up to be placed in temporary or permanent housing. But not everyone is pleased.

“I think, even if we get a home, which would be nice compared to living here, I mean, I think the camp should be around at least somewhere and in some capacity to at least house future homeless who have no place to go who have no home,” Ellinger said. He and his girlfriend signed up for housing.

Many that lived at the camp will move in with friends or family. The rest may end up on the streets again.

The tent city went up on land owned by the Michigan Department of Transportation about two years ago. State officials said the camp was not a safe place for people to live.

Camp Take Notice organizers said they hope to find a new site to start a similar tent community.

Mercedes Mejia is a producer and director of Stateside.
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