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Moving forward can be a struggle for those experiencing homelessness

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Posted at 2:22 PM, Mar 14, 2023

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — Cities and states across the country are grappling with how to respond to the homeless crisis.

In Tennessee, it's now a felony for those experiencing homelessness to camp in parks and on other public property. Since the law went into effect on July 1, 2022, there have been no arrests related to the law.

Niki Keck and Ann-Marie Fitzsimmons run the nonprofit that oversees a city-sanctioned campground.

“Camps are not allowed on private property, which is every piece of property in the city,” Keck said.

Only a quarter of people who entered the camp have found a home, according to Keck.

Amanda Kent is still waiting to be placed into a home as she fights ovarian cancer.

"I'm stage one, and now I'm going through, fixing to have surgery," she said.

Kent plans to remain at the campgrounds until she gets assistance for more permanent housing.

Those experiencing homelessness don't just need a roof over their head; many of them also need access to health care and job programs.

“I see a lot of veterans around here. I see a lot of disabled people around here who are needing help," Kent said. "And when they get the help, I consider it a blessing.”