- Associated Press - Thursday, January 8, 2015

DETROIT (AP) - Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said Thursday that the city may have to move about a dozen homeless people from a tent city in a park near downtown to shelters where they can stay warm.

The residents of the makeshift community on the edge of the Greening of Detroit park have resisted pleas from social service agencies to move indoors, despite temperatures in recent days that plunged below zero.

“It’s two degrees out there right now,” Duggan told reporters while reviewing the display setups for the annual North American International Auto Show at Cobo Center. “One way or another, we’re going to move folks into the shelters.”

“We’ve had folks from the homeless shelters out there every day for the last four or five days,” he added. “There are spots in shelters for every one of these individuals and at some point, we’re going to have to enforce the law. You can’t stay in the parks after 10 at night. You can’t have open fires. You can’t pitch tents.”

Mayoral spokesman John Roach said that “at the moment,” it’s not clear how the tent city residents would be removed.

One of them, Charles Floyd Jones, told The Associated Press in December that he helped start the tent city several months ago. Jones, 51, said that he prefers living in a tent to staying in a shelter.

Some in the tent city have said the site is close to churches that offer food and other necessities. It’s also close to freeways where some of the homeless seek handouts from passing motorists.

The encampment, which has grown from seven to about a dozen tents over the past few weeks, and clothing, bottled water and trash were piled up in several spots. It appeared deserted Thursday morning, when temperatures were well below zero degrees, although it wasn’t clear if its residents had taken respite in shelters or at warming centers opened by the city.

Lewis Hickson, operations manager of the Neighborhood Service Organization’s Tumaini Center, said his group has worked with the city in an effort to convince people in the tent city to come in out of the cold.

“They just don’t think shelters are safe and are not the place they want to be,” Hickson said.

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