Ithaca Homeless People Get More Time To Move Out Of Way For State Dredging

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ITHACA, NY (WSKG) – A group of homeless people in Ithaca have been granted another week to move off of a stretch of city land. The area is needed for part of a New York State flood-control project.

The encampment is in a flood-prone area between the Cayuga Lake Inlet and strip malls along a major road through Ithaca.

Celia Clarke/WSKG Public Radio

A temporary shelter sits behind a store in a strip mall in Ithaca, NY. April 6, 2020. (Celia Clarke/WSKG Public Radio)

Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick said no one was living in this particular area when the city agreed to let the state use it as part of the dredging project a few years ago. However, as of last week, there were about a dozen homeless people living in that area. It’s part of what people who live there call The Jungle.

Work was set to begin this past Monday, but Mayor Svante Myrick says he and a housing advocate were able to reach a compromise before that.

“We don’t want to forcibly remove or evict anybody so we’ve been working with both our outreach workers, the county outreach workers at DSS and volunteers who work with people in The Jungle to get voluntary compliance,” Myrick said.

He said people have been offered space in a local shelter or vacant hotels but most chose to stay on the land. Those who are staying are moving to another area not far away.

Celia Clarke/WSKG Public Radio

A new shelter set up by volunteers for a homeless person living in “The Jungle” in Ithaca. April 6, 2020. (Celia Clarke/WSKG Public Radio)

Volunteers are now helping people to set up new shelters and move belongings.

If the dredging were to be further delayed, Myrick said it could create an even bigger problem.

“[If people continue to live there] and we get flooding that displaces the entire ‘Jungle’ we will have damaged public health not helped it,” he said.

As of 2019, there were about 170 homeless people in Tompkins County according to a County report.