On September 18th, residents of Uptown Tent City were forced away from Wilson and Lawrence viaducts, with their tents dismantled, removed, and thrown into flatbed trucks to be placed in storage.
After over two years living under the viaducts, the City demanded residents move from the area all together, without providing adequate affordable housing for those living there now.
Residents, many of whom are long time residents of Uptown, are not guaranteed permanent housing by the Department of Family and Supportive Services (DFSS). Tent City built a community: residents watched each others’ tents and belongings when they went to work or school, swept the sidewalk and kept the area clean, and shared meals.
Though residents were able to establish tents on the parkway on Marine Drive between Wilson and Montrose, just southwest of their original location, the security, protection from the elements, and stability residents had living in Uptown Tent City is no longer available to them. As Tom Gordon said, a resident of Uptown Tent City, “The city doesn’t care about us and they made that clear. “
“The city doesn’t care about us and they made that clear. “
Thomas Gordon, the “Mayor of Uptown Tent City”.
“How can they kick us out when we’re already outside?”
Rafael lived in Uptown Tent City for five months.
“Being homeless shouldn’t be a criminal act.”
Adam Gianforte, an Uptown Tent City resident who was arrested for blocking Lake Shore Drive in an act of civil disobedience.
The eviction of Uptown Tent City is just one piece of the displacement of people of color and low income residents of Uptown. As rent prices have risen dramatically in Uptown, new luxury developments are built, more and more long time residents of Uptown like the 50 residents of Uptown Tent City have been forced into homelessness.
The eviction of Uptown Tent City also comes less than a year after the eviction of 30 people living in tents at Steward School – some of the same people who were displaced from the viaducts today.
This eviction was years in the making: the bad planning, lack of regulation, obsession with profit over people, and a lack of courage and vision on the part of our elected officials over the last several years, from the loss of the Chateau SRO to the approval of the Maryville, a 631 unit high rise with less than 2.5% of affordable housing. There is a dire need for affordable housing in Uptown and across the North side. Rising rent, the closures of single-room occupancy buildings (SROs), and developments without enough affordable housing will only create more homelessness.
With all of these forces in play, unless all politicians who represent our diverse communities step up for the people they represent, long time Uptown residents like those living in Uptown Tent City truly have nowhere to go. The fight for affordable housing in Uptown and across the North side is not over — Uptown Tent City residents need stable, permanent housing, including tenants of SROs like the Wilson Men’s Hotel.
There are solutions to these problems: from creating community benefits agreements (CBA) like the one at Wilson and Broadway to making sure that developers surpass the minimal requirements of the Affordable Requirements Ordinance (ARO) and the Single-Room Occupancy requirements (SRO), we can make a change if politicians that represent us are courageous enough to listen to the grassroots. For all long time residents of Uptown, we need to do more. We need safe, secure housing for everyone across the North side!