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Athens Homeless Camp Displaced as Highway Crews Clear Area

A highway crew contracted by the Georgia Department of Transportation displaced five homeless people when a wooded area near the intersection of Lexington road and the Athens perimeter was cleared a few weeks ago.

The area had served as a homeless camp for the past fifteen odd years. Now the area’s shade is gone and one of its three small structures that provided shelter is toppled.

The Department of Transportation was clearing the area in a project that pushed back the tree line to reduce shadows on the road and ensure falling trees wouldn’t disrupt traffic in storms.

It’s not uncommon for cities to attempt to push out homeless populations, using techniques like adding anti-homeless bench blockers that prevent people from lying down.

Sydney McCall -- director’s assistant at The Sparrow’s Nest-- had heard about the project and says “it’s an unfortunate consequence” that people were pushed out of the area, but has no reason to doubt that the decision to remove trees and underbrush was for the purposes of road safety.

Athens-Clarke County police notified the residents of the camp in advance and McCall said that The Sparrow’s Nest had also alerted people of the upcoming change.

No one was in the camp when the trees were cleared.