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Akron's Second Chance Village is Closing with a Flurry of Acitivity

photo of Voluneers at tent village clean up
Volunteers helped clear out what's left of Second Chance Village.

Second Chance Village is all but gone.  The last tents of the homeless camp on the back lot of a commercial property in Akron’s Middlebury neighborhood were coming down Thursday.

Facing a Sunday deadline from the city for having the lot totally cleared, volunteers joined residents of the encampment in a final cleanup. More than half of the 45 or so people who’d been living there are going to homeless shelters. But the rest, who can’t or don’t want to be placed in government or charity run facilities are heading back to the streets.

Roger Shortbridge is one of them. “It’s been rough.  It’s a little hard to adjust.  Basically the main thing to do is survive.  It’s the hardest part of the day and it’s the hardest part of the night.  But we all want to stick together because there’s safety in numbers, and resources are easier to find with more people looking.”

Half a dozen of the volunteers who were helping with the Thursday clean-up are students from the Walsh Jesuit High School Labre Project—a service organization that offers food, clothing and help to the poor.  

Jamie Coley, adult leader in the Labre Project at Walsh Jesuit High School

Jame Coley with the Walsh Jesuit HS Labre Project
Jamie Coley with student volunteers from Walsh Jesuit High School

Jamie Coley is a parent leader.  “One of our stops happens to be here.  So we’ve been with these people for several years.  And Sage Lewis just reached out to us to help people get moved.  The tents that are left here are the ones where people are still in them.  So we have to, by the end of the day, get all of these put away and so forth.”

Sage Lewis is the Akron activist who set up the tent city behind the business he owns on the east side.  He wanted the camp to be an alternative to living on the streets for some of the homeless, but the city said the camp violates zoning laws and order it closed.