CSX Removes Homeless Encampment in Akron

CSX police and local authorities removed a homeless encampment from railroad property in Akron earlier this month.

The encampment was near Grace Park, which has long been a hangout for the homeless.

Contractors working for CSX used a backhole and a dump truck to clear the debris from the encampment.

A CSX spokesperson told the Akron Beacon Journal the action had been planned for some time.

“This didn’t happen overnight – we’ve been giving them warnings for two years,” said Sherilee Bowman.

Bowman said the railroad acted to address health and safety issues, but said it had held back on acting sooner because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A city official said it supported the removal of the encampment because it was “dangerously close to active railroad tracks.”

Since June 2019, CSX trains have struck and killed three people in the area, including two east of Grace Park. The third fatality occurred on the other side of Ohio Route 8.

Federal Railroad Administration records show that those killed had been walking on the tracks.

CSX spokesperson Bowman said those removed from the encampment were living on railroad property and had been notified that they had to leave.

“Cleanup was scheduled after conducting a series of outreach efforts and engaging community partners to identify alternative living arrangements,” she said.

“We worked with stakeholders well in advance of scheduling and removal of trespassers in order to protect the safety of the community and our property.”

Advocates for the homeless, though, were critical of the encampment’s removal and said its residents received just 20 minutes notice of the impending action.

Mike Lucas, a co-founder of Akron Food Not Bombs said his group and others have been providing food and supplies for more than a year to homeless residents living in and near Grace Park.

He said various individuals have come and gone from the area over the past year but 15 people were living between the East Market Street and the Perkins Street bridges over the CSX New Castle Subdivision tracks.

Advocates for the homeless told the Beacon Journal some of those disrupted by the CSX action will simply move to other areas because they are unwilling to go to a homeless shelter such as Haven of Rest in Akron.

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One Response to “CSX Removes Homeless Encampment in Akron”

  1. Mike P Says:

    I don’t know about this case, but around here an unwillingness to move to a homeless shelter usually stems for the shelter’s policy against drug or alcohol use.

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