Durham homeless community being forced off state-owned property

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – A homeless community along the Durham Freeway says they’ve been told they have to leave after the state posted no trespassing signs where they live.

Many of them say they are being forced out with nowhere to go.

The area off the W. Chapel Hill Street exit is Joyce Klunk’s home.

She sleeps there, eats there, and even washes her clothes there.

But recently, the state posted a sign outside her tent that read, “State owned property. No trespassing.”

She couldn’t believe it.

“Oh my God, I didn’t know what to do,” she said. “Where are we going to go? What are we going to do? Because we don’t have anywhere to go or we wouldn’t be here in the first place.”

She says she was told to leave by Feb. 10.

“My biggest concern is that we’re not going to have a place to go when the deadline hits,” she said.

CBS North Carolina called the Department of Transportation to find out why the signs were posted.

Officials said the state was responding to a complaint from nearby residents in December.

Councilman Mark-Anthony Middleton says the homeless community are residents too and they will be treated with respect and dignity.

“We are not looking at Durham Police Department units rolling around rounding folk up, or pushing people out,” he said. “We’re looking to serve these people and offer them opportunities so they don’t have to stay in those areas.”

Middleton tells me options include shelter and permanent housing. He says right now, law enforcement is working with city council to determine the approach.

“At the end of the day I think we’re going to work together as a city, the folk who are on the ground here every day working together to find an outcome that is not dramatic one mean-spirited but an outcome that is reflective of Durham’s values and honors the law,” he said.

With limited affordable housing in Durham, and shelters often full, Klunk is living in fear.

“It’s scary not to have anywhere else to go,” she said. “We have nowhere to go.”

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