NORMAN, Okla. (KFOR) – A homeless encampment in University North Park in Norman was driven away this week amid a development of the land there that will likely add to the shopping and dining area.
People started moving out Tuesday as construction equipment got to work clearing trees in the thick wooded area. Those homeless people that lived back there said they were not given much notice to leave either.
University North Park in Norman is home to numerous shops and restaurants, and construction equipment was near Legacy Park Drive Wednesday paving the way for more.
However, those living in there could be seen carrying their belongings out Tuesday and Wednesday.
“This has been our home for three years and should really have more than a couple of hours’ notice to move,” said Edward Hobbs, a homeless man that had lived in the area for three years. “It’s private property. We get that. We have not bothered no one for three years.”
“It’s incredibly frustrating,” said Stephen Lett, one of the founders of Norman Care-A-Vans, a group that was helping the people move their stuff out of the encampment. “Very sad for us.”
Lett said it all started with a call Tuesday morning. He thought the move was just to get the people out of the extreme heat.
“When we got here, we saw these bulldozer crews, and we’re like, what? What’s going on?” he said. “We’ve been trying to get them to stop, but it seems like they’ve checked all the legal boxes.”
The city of Norman told KFOR the listed developer for the area is University Town Center LLC. They also said it is not a city managed project.
The Cleveland County Assessor’s site backed that same information.
After looking into that situation, we were told by a real estate group that the developer of that particular spot in University North Park is Sooner Investment.
KFOR reached out to them numerous times on Wednesday via phone and again on Thursday morning. However, we did not receive a response.
“Where are we going to go on the hottest day of the year?” Hobbs said, speaking about Tuesday’s very high temperatures. “We had nowhere to go, and we cannot move anything.”
The move now leaves Hobbs, his wife Joanna, and his dog Precious trying to plan their next moves.
“Homeless are people too,” Hobbs said. “We have lives and feelings, and we’re not just nobody’s.”
Norman Care-A-Vans said they are getting them hotel rooms right now, so they have somewhere to go.
It’s unclear what exactly is going to be built in that spot.
The City of Norman said there are places to go and sent a resource list where help can be found for the people moving out of the wooded area.
However, people with Care-A-Vans said those places are mostly full or require certain things to get into.
A city of Norman managed shelter closed in late June due to a request to vacate the property from the property owner.