66 tents remain as clearing of encampment continues

There are about 66 occupied tents left in the Charleston’s so-called Tent City along Upper Meeting Street near the entrance to Interstate 26. Not long ago there were more than 100.

The more than 100 occupied tents that made up the so-called Tent City, the homeless encampment near Upper Meeting Street and the entrance to Interstate 26, has been reduced to about 66, according to a spokesman for the city of Charleston.

Another four to eight tents in the encampment are being used to store items, Jack O’Toole said.

In early February, the city announced that it hoped to find housing for people who lived there and clear out the encampment within 60 days. City leaders have said they are working with One80 Place, Family Services and other groups to find homes and provide other services to Tent City residents.

But current residents of the encampment have a different story to tell. Three people said the only communication they have had with the city is via a piece of paper that states when they have to leave Tent City and a list of resources “we already know about.”

“All they’ve done is picked up abandoned tents,” said Kevin Pethtel, who has been in Tent City since October but homeless for about five years. “The city’s done nothing; all (they’ve) done is harass us to get out of here.”

Tent City was quiet Tuesday afternoon, save for a few people sitting in and near their tents. The area was clean with most tents grouped together.

Pethtel said his church recently helped him get into an apartment, so he would be leaving. But a woman he was talking to, who declined to give her name, and Chris Bozie said they have no idea where they will go when their time is up.

“I guess (people will) find another place to hide a tent,” Bozie said.

He’s been in Tent City for about two weeks and said he doesn’t know how he’s supposed to apply for a job without clean clothes and a shower.

“They need to do something to put people in permanent housing,” he said. “I ain’t never been this dirty.”

Reach Melissa Boughton at 843-937-5594 or at Twitter.com/mboughtonPC. Reach Diane Knich at 843-937-5491 or on Twitter @dianeknich.