Charlottesville had — and lost — a shelter that social workers say could have helped hundreds of unhoused people off the streets

Charlottesville Tomorrow: Market Street Park has looked a little different the past couple of weeks.

What was once a mostly empty greenspace has become a bustling community of people — living in tents. They’re singing songs, smoking cigarettes (and other things), playing and “knighting” one another with plastic swords, sharing meals and creating lots of trash. There have been some fights, including a stabbing. A dog got loose and caused chaos.

The tent community, or rather, the visibility of it, has catapulted the city into turmoil, and brought into plain sight the growing number of homeless individuals living in Charlottesville.

“We sleep on the stoops, you know,” said Gregory Adams, one of the unhoused people camping in the park. “You didn’t see us as much as you do right now, but we were still there. Just like the rats. We were still there.”

Their sudden stark visibility means people all around the city are talking about the tent community and are inundating city leaders with demands to do something about it. City leaders want to address it — and the issue of homelessness more broadly. With the tent community growing, they’re working on a plan. 

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