Park Hill’s homeless community dubbed ‘Tent City’, was taken down in January due to being an eyesore to the council and the public, a local homeless man has said.
Father of two, Chris Peace, aged 45, has been living rough on the streets of Sheffield for five years after he separated from his wife. Chris was one of over a dozen occupants at Tent City when they were evicted by the Council. He said:
“Tent City was the safest I’ve felt in months…we’re living under a bridge now.
“The real reason we got moved on is because the Council thought we were an eyesore.
“I don’t think they [the Council] know what they’re doing, putting us back on the streets.”
Tent City, set up by Anthony Cunningham, 31, who has a history of working with the homeless, aimed to give Sheffield’s rough sleepers access to a warm shelter for the night along with a hot meal and basic amenities.
Mr. Cunningham, speaking to the Star last year, had become disillusioned with how the public in Sheffield gloss over the homeless problem, with it seemingly being an afterthought:
“They see one or two articles in the paper and they think the whole world’s gone to pot.
“A lot of these people are not homeless… a lot are on drugs, or people who have been abused. People who fell through the cracks.”
With figures collected by Homeless Link showing homelessness is on the rise, Chris says the problem can only get worse:
“I’ve definitely seen more people on the street, they come and go but there’s definitely more than when I first came to Sheffield from Rotherham.”
Coun Jayne Dunn, a cabinet member for housing at Sheffield Council, released a statement which said the eviction was due to unsafe living conditions:
“Tent City is not a safe place for people to stay. We have real safeguarding concerns about the site and do not want it to attract vulnerable people who can get support and accommodation from established services.”
Yet, when asked about this quote Chris said:
“I don’t know about anyone else but I wasn’t offered anything, I moved my tent under the bridge with a few of the others and that’s that.
“In Tent City there was about 17 of us, we all worked together, we were up early to clean our rubbish and as far as drugs go, there are more needles up at the place now than whenever we were there.
“Anthony [Cunningham] though, he was great…selfless, I got off the booze up there with his help. It took me a month, I was an alcoholic for years and I haven’t touched any drink since.
“We were a proper community and it’s sad that its gone.
“We’re human beings not some crap to be looked down on.”