- Associated Press - Thursday, November 20, 2014

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) - A homeless camp in Ann Arbor is facing scrutiny from the city after receiving complaints from neighbors.

Camp Serenity, as its residents call it, is situated on private property along nature trails near a highway on the city’s southeast side. The camp consists of about a dozen tents, tarp-covered areas, fire pits, bicycles chained to trees and a portable toilet, the Ann Arbor News (https://bit.ly/1xRRqDJ ) reported.

Homeowners in the nearby Forestbrooke subdivision say the camp has grown after beginning with only a few tents last summer. City Council Member Stephen Kunselman is now asking the city’s administration to take action.

“The Forestbrooke neighborhood should not have to be tolerating homeless people in their backyard,” Kunselman said at a council meeting Monday night.

Ann Arbor police recently visited the site to confirm there were people illegally camping there.

“I expect that it will not be lasting through the winter,” Kunselman said. “And I expect the private property owner is going to have to go through the motions of putting up ‘no trespassing’ signs … and that’s unfortunate because neighbors have been using that property kind of as a park, using the trails through there.”

The property is owned by California-based Highridge Costa Housing Partners, which has had plans to build an affordable housing project on the site since receiving city approval in 2007. But the project has been stalled as it’s waited for the state to approve highly competitive low-income housing tax credits.

Tom Erickson, senior vice president of Highridge Costa, said anyone who is living in tents on the company’s property is doing so illegally because they’re trespassing without permission.

Members of MISSION, a local nonprofit that supports homeless in Ann Arbor, has been helping the people living in Camp Serenity. MISSION President Sheri Wander said the homeless campers don’t want to break the law, but they have no other options. They have been working hard to clean up the wooded area, which has been used as an illegal dumping site for years, she said.

“Every neighbor I have talked to out there has been really positive and thanked us for cleaning that up,” Wander said.


Information from: The Ann Arbor News, https://www.mlive.com/ann-arbor

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