Homeless residents ordered to relocate, vacate tents from sidewalk after receiving violation notices

Posted at 2:22 PM, May 22, 2021

NORFOLK, Va. - Several homeless residents are unsure and worried after receiving notices from the City of Norfolk stating their tents, set up along 19th Street, may be gone.

“There’s nowhere to go,” one man said, speaking to News 3 on the condition his identity not be revealed. “I was kind of upset at it, I felt upset, I’m going to be straightforward with you."

The homeless residents received green notices from the city saying they had 24 hours to vacate. If they did not, then the city would come in and have to clear out all of the tents. The notices were handed out on Friday.

"It’s very frustrating because we’ve tried to work with the city,” Katrina Freeman, the found of Keep Virginia Warm, a homeless advocacy group, said. “I’ve been in contact with them several times, I’ve sent letters, even commenting on Twitter."

Freeman and volunteers were out on 19th Street on Saturday, tending to the residents and attempting to helping them in light of the situation. Freeman said she has visited for about a year trying to help.

"I got a call last night from one of the individuals whom we were already servicing,” Freeman explained. “They told us that the city came out with the CSB (Community Service Board) and told them that they had 24 hours to move."

In addition to the green notices, they also received a violation notice for obstructing the right of way and a letter.

The letter from the city stated the Community Services Board is providing assistance with relocating them to the homeless center located at the former Greyhound Bus Station on Brambleton Avenue.

The letter added it will provide admission to these residents which will be valid until May 28, regardless of the shelter being at maximum capacity.

It went on to read resources such as backpacks will be provided, but Freeman expressed it is not enough.

Full letter below:

The Community Services Board Outreach Team is offering assistance with your relocation. While The Interim Homeless Center at Greyhound is currently at capacity, we are providing an exception for you to go to the center for sheltering if you choose. This letter provides you with admission to the shelter starting May 21, 2021 and is good through Friday May 28, 2021 for your first night of check-in. The check-in door is the glass front door facing Brambleton Ave between Granby and Monticello.

You may not be able to be assigned a tent at first, but we will offer you safe place to be overnight and services during the day.

All other homeless center rules apply, so please be reminded of the following:
  • We strongly encourage you to come to the center during the afternoon prior to the evening that you want to check-in, but you must arrive before 7pm.
  • Once evening check-in is complete, you must remain on-site through the night to stay the rest of the night.
  • We are providing you with an additional backpack and remind you that you can bring only a very limited amount of belongings with you.
  • 100% bag checks is in place to ensure the safety of all - no alcohol, non-prescription substances, or weapons are allowed. If you have work tools we can secure them for you at the center.
  • If you have workhours that prevent you from checking in at night, please come to the center during the day to discuss your need for a different check-in time.

Before you leave, please place anything you no longer want in or next to the city trash bins (including tents, bedding, and tarps that you are abandoning). Anything you leave behind or leave on the site will be considered abandoned.
City of Norfolk

“We’re not trying to take anything from them,” Freeman said, “but we want them to see how these people live."

As for the anonymous resident, he said, "My plan, I’m going to focus on myself right now, pick up a book and see what I can learn, just help myself."