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A tent city in the woods

September 15, 2018 Digital Media Exclusive

Hidden away from cars, homes and businesses in the thick woods between Kittanning and Monroe streets lies an impromptu homeless community known by its ragtag residents and county officials as “tent city.”

Devin Cunningham, the homeless programs and SOAR supervisors at the Center for Community Resources on Main Street, said a group of county officials visit the tent city about once per month.

“We offer assistance and services in the hopes that we can convince them to take the services and get some housing assistance,” Cunningham said.

He said there are five to 10 tents at any given time during all four seasons, along with an adjacent fire ring surrounded by stumps and homemade benches.

“Some have been living there for a long time and they're satisfied with that,” Cunningham said.

He said the occupants of tent city range in age from 18 to their 60s, and some are couples.

Cunningham said financial struggles, mental health or drug and alcohol issues, or even a death in the family are reasons that people are living at the tent city.

The tent city has existed since he started working at CCR six years ago, said Cunningham, but he does not know how long it has been hidden in the woods of Butler.

“It's important for everyone to know these are just humans like you and I,” Cunningham said. “Just because they struck bad luck somewhere in their lives doesn't mean they should be given up on.”

Read more about the tent city and Butler homelessness in Sunday's Butler Eagle.

Want to help Butler County's homeless?

Many opportunities for county residents to help the homeless are coming in November, which is Homeless Awareness Month in Butler County.

Until then, monetary, food, bedding, and sometimes, furniture donations are accepted at the CCR office at 212—214 S. Main St. Cunningham said donors should call the office at 724-431-0095 before bringing donations to the office.