Commissioners praise Tent City response while also pointing out it wasn’t perfect

Updated: Feb. 23, 2021 at 5:29 PM EST
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - A WBTV Investigation Monday shed light on the lack of communication from Mecklenburg County Manager Dena Diorio leading up to the Tent City abatement order last week.

On Tuesday, county leaders are trying to move on from those mistakes and focus on helping the people moved from the encampment.

In just over 24 hours, Mecklenburg County reports helping move 214 people from the Tent City encampment to hotels late last week. An abatement order issued because of a rat infestation gave people until Friday at 5 p.m. to leave.

During a Board of County Commissioners meeting Tuesday, county staff reported that there was staffing at the hotels with resources including veteran services, mental health support and finding more permanent housing solutions.

“Really what we’re looking to do is mirror how our current shelter system operates,” Community Support Services Business Manager Karen Pelletier said.

Commissioners were full of praise for County Manager Dena Diorio and her staff about the results so far.

“I can’t thank Dena enough for her leadership,” Chairman George Dunlap said.

“I saw compassion. I saw responsibility,” Commissioner Leigh Altman said.

But half a dozen elected leaders from the city and county told WBTV for a report Monday there were major flaws in communication from the manager’s office leading up to the abatement order, leading to confusion and finger-pointing about how people from the encampment would be transported.

Deputy County Manager Anthony Trotman confirmed some of WBTV’s reporting from Monday, saying he first started having conversations about the rat infestation on Saturday afternoon.

However, it wasn’t until Monday that Diorio was briefed.

“Then Gibbie (Harris) and the public health team researched options for us to consider,” Trotman said.

While commissioners hailed Diorio’s response, they also acknowledged it wasn’t perfect and they would need to figure out how to do better next time.

“I think that’s part of our job, is to always bet testing, to always be listening, to always be challenging,” Commissioner Susan Rodriguez-McDowell said.

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