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Construction Pushes Homeless Out Hart Plaza, City Finds Housing

(CBS DETROIT) – A tent community has been cleared out at Hart Plaza in downtown Detroit.

Housing advocates say a new construction project sent dozens of homeless residents packing.

"Anywhere between 10, 20, 50 people will, can be in the encampment at a time," said Jewan Price, Eastside Mutual Aid co-founder.

Eastside Mutual Aid is a community organization advocating for people who called Hart Plaza home.

"Kind of like with the Cass Corridor, similar thing happened here at hart. When you get these people and you have these initiatives like that to make the city look beautiful, sure that's great but who is it great for?" said Price.

The $2.9 million project will break ground Tuesday to address unsafe conditions in the foundation, drains and electrical wires.

City officials say Hart Plaza will be an active construction site that's not conducive for shelter.

"Well they were given a week's notice by the city even though I'm sure the city knew about the construction much longer and they were all very upset. The folks that we talked to wanted to stay. They wanted to have their home here. Hart plaza is not just a home but it's a community for so many. These folks take care of each other. They watch out for each other," said Kara Mason, Eastside Mutual Aid co-founder.

Donald Rencher from Detroit's Housing, Planning And Development department released a statement to CW50/CBS 62 saying the city found hotel rooms for 11 people who camped at Hart Plaza.

The statement also says those in need will be connected with service agencies for case management and permanent housing.

"The city of Detroit is housing these folks but it's really the work of outreach workers and advocates that got them the housing," said Mason.

In the meantime, Eastside Mutual Aid is sending city officials a list of demands to better serve the homeless community, to include more funds for public health services and housing.

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