Property owners sue city of Charlotte, Mecklenburg County to clear homeless camps

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE)- Property owners near homeless camps in and around uptown Charlotte are suing the city and Mecklenburg County.

They say local government leaders have failed to address the problem of people pitching tents nearby. The owners also say homeless camps are making their multi-million dollar property “worthless.”

They have now added the city and county to a lawsuit seeking to clear the camps, saying they threaten area property values and safety.

“I mean it’s real out here. It’s life.”

Henry, who did not want to give his last name, is one of dozens of homeless campers living on the streets of uptown. He wishes the county and the city would do more to help people like himself, who are in dire circumstances.

“Money. People think about money more than helping people,” he said.

It is not just people like Henry calling on local leaders to step up. Property owners are too.

“We have essentially a refugee problem where if this was a third world country, they might at least have bathroom facilities and hot and cold running water,” says attorney Ed Hinson.

Hinson represents the people who own more than two acres of land on North Tryon Street. In July, they filed a lawsuit suing surrounding landowners, to compel them to clear camps on their property.

“They’ve owned the property for about 14 years and they’ve had three contracts to sell it that have all fallen through because when the buyers find out the property is surrounded by a homeless encampment, they cancel the contract.”

The plaintiffs have now added Charlotte and Mecklenburg County to the lawsuit. They blame county and city policies for herding the homeless into the North Tryon Street, North College Street corridor. Hinson says the trash and feces that litter the area have made the real estate “unmarketable.”

“The city and the county have regulations about where you can camp, where you can pitch an encampment, and we believe what they’re doing violates those regulations.”

The city sent FOX 46 a statement in response. It says in part, “We are actively seeking assistance from our community partners and the parties to this litigation to identify potential solutions to this issue.”

A spokesperson for Mecklenburg County said the county does not comment on pending litigation.

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