Camp Rhonda has relocated at least four times in the last two months
Between 30-40 people without housing setup their tents in Pioneer Park adjacent to the cemetery in downtown Dallas, Tuesday, March 9, 2021. Founders of Dallas Houseless Committee said onsite that the City of Dallas moved Camp Rhonda out of a private site where they had permission near I-45 and Ferris St. They are trying to bring awareness to the constant movement of unhoused people by the city and that they need some permanency for the ongoing issue. They say ‘camp is a community’ and believe housing is a human right. “Everyone deserves security and safety.” They set up the camp overnight Monday on a hill near the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center.
Camp Rhonda, a homeless encampment of about 30 tents, was moving Friday for the second time in five days.
Dallas police showed up at Pioneer Plaza in the morning and told residents that the park needed to be clear by 1 p.m. It was unclear where the group would go. Organizers couldn’t be reached for comment.
Volunteers helped people load their tents and other belongings into a U-Haul in the afternoon as about a dozen police officers walked through the park telling people to leave. Around 20 protesters linked arms in front of officers and encouraged Camp Rhonda residents to “take their time,”
The unsheltered residents of this encampment were asked to vacate the plaza by 1 pm today per the city of Dallas. Police and city personnel have not started clearing the lot, but residents and organizers are tearing down tents and loading belongings into a U-Haul.
Camp Rhonda was named in memory of Rhonda Fenwick, who lived at the original location just south of Deep Ellum before she died of organ failure in November. The community stayed in a vacant lot there until late January, when the lot owner received a code violation notice for misusing the land.
After the Dallas Houseless Committee funded two separate hotel stays — one for two weeks while they searched for another site and another for four days because of last month’s winter storm — the community moved downtown next to Pioneer Park Cemetery on Monday.
Volunteers who have provided food, laundry services and first aid to the residents for months said they relocated close to City Hall to call for permanent and sustainable housing solutions from the city.
“Hopefully, we’re putting enough pressure on them that they’ll actually do something,” David Greef, co-founder of the Dallas Houseless Committee, told The Dallas Morning News on Wednesday.
“Each move just compounds more trauma.”
City personnel passed out sandwiches to residents Wednesday and helped them sign up to receive IDs. After months of sweeps initiated by the city, those moves didn’t impress local activists.
Last year, the city’s Office of Homeless Solutions received about $500,000, and the water department got $250,000, to clean up encampments. But the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended last May that cities temporarily pause cleanups to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
In addition to the risk of infection, the sweeps have made it difficult for residents trying to stabilize their lives.
Diesel Andrews and his girlfriend have lived at Camp Rhonda for about six months. They both work odd jobs, but their combined income isn’t enough to apply for an apartment. Andrews has had belongings taken from him by cleanup crews in previous sweeps.
“I’m not understanding why people do what they do to us because we’re homeless,” Andrews, 56, told The News on Wednesday.
“They got us moving around, stealing our stuff. Then you have to start all over again, and again and again. It doesn’t make sense.”
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