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Homeless People In Akron Have Some Ideas After Being Asked to Leave the Freedom Trail

photo of auction area
This area near the Freedom Trail is part of a small thrift store for homeless people. Paul Hays and Paul Herman run the store and were recently asked to leave Metro Parks' land slated for construction.

Over the weekend, about a dozen homeless people left the area that will soon be a new portion of the Freedom Trail in the Summit Metro Parks.

The Freedom Trail is for biking and hiking and starts just south of the Cuyahoga River on the border of Portage and Summit Counties. It slopes downward into Akron and currently stops northeast of downtown.

Last week, Summit Metro Parks put up a notice that anyone living in a tent near the end of the trail had to be out by this past Saturday.

Paul Herman has been there for almost a year and a half. During the day, he runs a small thrift store for other homeless people. He says he’s not sure where he’ll live now, but he thinks the city could help in the future by setting aside a plot of land for homeless people who want to pitch tents.

“Most of us don’t go around trying to steal or whatever. All we’re trying to do is just make our own way in the world.”

Herman works with Paul Hays, who says being displaced is one of many unhelpful moves by Akron officials dealing with homeless people.

“If somebody sets up a tent somewhere off quiet, leave them alone. What’s the problem? What are they doing? They’re just trying to survive. That’s it. By you bothering them and tearing down their tent or whatnot, they’re just going to get set up somewhere else. What is the point?”

The written notice posted last week says any belongings left after this past Saturday would be held by the MetroParks for 30 days before being disposed of.

On Sunday, Summit MetroParks issued the following statement:

In recent weeks, Summit Metro Parks has been in communication with city officials, the manager of homeless outreach at the Peter Maurin Center, and several of the individuals camping in the area. The park district has asked individuals to remove items in the construction zone. If they cannot, the park district will store their personal items off-site for up to 30 days.
Per park rules, temporary lodging is not permitted on land managed by Summit Metro Parks, except in designated campsites.
The campsites in question are in the construction zone, right were we intend to build.

Kabir Bhatia joined WKSU as a Reporter/Producer and weekend host in 2010. While a Kent State student, Bhatia served as a WKSU student assistant, working in the newsroom and for production.