Two makeshift camps used by homeless people for decades were destroyed this week. City authorities stole all of their belongings, leaving the homeless cold and without a dry place to sleep.
“What they did was totally wrong,” 66-year-old Howard said in tears to WXYZ, who first reported on the story. Howard had been staying at the camp before police raided. Police took Howard’s wallet, ID and most all of his belongings.
City officials stole sleeping bags, tents, coats, hats, shoes, gloves, and anything else they could find in the camps around Hart Plaza and by Joe Louis Arena.
The city has a troubled history with the treatment of the most vulnerable. In 2013, civil rights groups reported Detroit police were abducting homeless people and abandoning them miles away from the city. The Detroit area has more than 1,700 people living on the street or in shelters, according to a 2018 “point-in-time” count. Tens of thousands more people are without permanent housing.
The city has more than 40,000 vacant homes, according to research group Data Driven Detroit. As many as 3,000 vacant homes have already been reclaimed by people in need of shelter.