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County working to place "Tent City" residents as vacate deadline looms

Posted at 5:44 PM, Oct 17, 2019

MILWAUKEE — In two weeks, people living inside Milwaukee’s downtown “Tent City” are expected to relocate.

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation issued a notice to vacate, giving residents until October 31 to move. The Milwaukee County Housing Administration said about 25 of about 90 people have moved into housing.

"In the next couple weeks, we'll be working in partnership with the DOT and other groups," said James Mathy of the Milwaukee County Housing Administration.

Mathy said he doesn’t anticipate a big law enforcement presence on October 31 and believes people will choose the housing option as winter approaches.

With 14 days left to move, TMJ4 spoke with C.J., who didn’t want to share his last name. He’s been at Tent City for about five months. Now, he’s planning his next move.

“We all knew it was coming,” C.J. said. “But to have a definite date was depressing.”

Many of the tents in the encampment remain.

“I don’t know,” C.J. said when asked about October 31.

TODAY’S TMJ4 reached out to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation about how they plan to enforce the Tent City vacate. They write the following in a statement:

We are hopeful that everyone that is there will take advantage of the housing that is available to them and that they will relocation on their own. If they do not leave we will address that if needed. We have had similar issues in the past when we needed to access the structures for maintenance or inspections and the persons involved relocated when asked to by law enforcement. It is possible that a citation could be issued at that time, that is an option. Of course they could be issued the same citation today as it is illegal to camp on WisDOT right of way.

C.J. said he’s hopeful any provided housing would help lead to permanent housing as people make their way in and out of Tent City in the future.

Residents are expected to vacate Tent City on October 31.