FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Last week, volunteers worked to make Fort Wayne parks and neighborhoods look spotless in the Great American Cleanup.
However, some in the community say that part of making the city look spotless actually disrupted the lives of several homeless people.
Sally Segerson, who is a self-appointed advocate for the homeless population in Fort Wayne and can often be found handing out coats and other necessities, said that she had to give away tents to replace those thrown away in Saturday’s effort.
“After the great American cleanup 12 tents were handed out in 12 hours,” said Segerson.
She said one other man asked for a tent later, saying he had been sleeping in the elements since Saturday night.
What Segerson wanted was a warning to the homeless population so they could move or pack up tents in advance of them potentially being thrown away.
While Segerson alleges that at least 13 tents were thrown away, the city isn’t aware of any tents reportedly thrown away.
They do however say that the volunteers aren’t trained to handle homeless camps or tents in a statement sent to WANE 15.
“During the Great American Cleanup, the groups that participate usually choose their own areas to clean, including along roadways, vacant lots and common areas in their neighborhoods, so it has never been our policy to give volunteers guidance about homeless encampments. We didn’t receive any calls from the volunteers about finding homeless encampments, or any other issues.”Matt Gratz, Fort Wayne Solid Waste Manager