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City of Morgantown clears Diamond Village homeless encampment

Published: Dec. 1, 2020 at 8:51 PM EST
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MORGANTWON, W.Va (WDTV) - Just outside of downtown Morgantown, a gravel road now leads to a patch of mud, the site of what used to be one of the largest homeless encampments ever seen in Morgantown, Diamond Village.

The encampment has been marred in controversy since it was established in the early summer battling numerous shutdown attempts and highly politicized incidents on the campsite.

Last month, a sign was placed on the campsite warning that the city would be clearing out the property on Monday, November 30th.

“Ultimately in August we presented a plan for how to kind of finalize and close the camp to city council and with a few minor revisions were approved the plan,” said Emily Muzzarelli, the assistant city manager of Morgantown.

Their first step was to create a registry of the dozens of residents in the camp and find a place for them; that begins at the Bartlett House.

“We pretty much run the gambit on a lot of different housing opportunities for those who are experiencing homelessness,” said Keri Demasi, Executive Director of Bartlett Housing Solutions.

The multi-agency effort found plans for nearly all the inhabitants of the campsite and, by Monday, just one person who was not on the registry was left.

“The street outreach people are already reaching out to them and the individual claims that he does not need any housing between now and whenever they did find a permanent house for him,” said Muzzarelli.

The property now sits empty, covered in mud and litter, a single sign appearing to have been signed by former residents remains untouched.

Demasi says the camp put undue pressure on the system, hurting the agency’s outreach operations.

“There were people that were passed over because all the focus and resources were being put towards the camp,” said Demasi.

With the ongoing pandemic and a rise in those needing home services, Demasi says they can now focus their attention on other areas of outreach.

Posts on the Diamond Village Facebook page hint that more villages will sprout up throughout the area, but both officials from the city of Morgantown and the Bartlett Housing Solutions say they have not seen any encampments up to this point that have reached the size or scale of Diamond Village.

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