Akron Homeless Advocate Sues City To Stave Off Tent Village Shutdown

Sage Lewis (R), founder of Homeless Charity looks on as Attorney Jeff Rowes (L) with the Institute for Justice speaks to reporters
Attorney Jeff Rowes with the Institute for Justice and Sage Lewis, founder of Homeless Charity [Tim Rudell / WKSU]
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Tim Rudell, WKSU

The operator of a homeless camp on Akron’s east side is suing the city. The move is aimed at keeping the tent village open despite a city-imposed Thanksgiving deadline for shutting it down. 

For a year and a half Sage Lewis has been letting 40 or so homeless people live behind a commercial building he owns in the Middlebury neighborhood. 

Last month Akron City Council voted down a zoning variance for the camp and ordered it closed. Lewis is suing. He says it’s his private property and if he wants to let people stay there he can.

Lewis’s attorney Jeff Rowes with the Institute for Justice believes Lewis is right. And Rowes says, the city should rethink the whole issue.

“Sage is pioneering an innovative model using private property, private money to shelter people for dollars a day,” said Rowes. “This is a model that could be replicated across the country.  And the city should be working with Sage.”

Rowes says the court action is meant to gain a temporary reprieve from the closing order. He says Lewis still wants to work with the city on long-term solutions.

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