Saturday, Apr 21, 2018
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Homeless to query mayoral candidates

Tent City to hold weekend forum

When Toledo’s seven mayoral candidates take their spots Friday night for another forum, the questions will come from the city’s homeless and unhoused populations.

“There are good questions that need to be asked,” said Ken Leslie, of 1 Matters, which organizes the annual Tent City. “Some candidates wanted to close the shelters, others supported the shelters.”

The three-day event begins at 5 p.m. Friday with dinner, which is followed at 6 p.m. by the one-mile compassion march. 

The march starts at Promenade Park and ends at the Civic Center Mall, and will “showcase the many good things in this community,” Mr. Leslie said.

Tent City, which began in 1990, raises awareness of homelessness and connects people in need to services.

Each year, about 1,500 attend Tent City, Mr. Leslie said.

“Tent City is this weekend-long festival of compassion where there is no ‘us’ or ‘them,’ ” Mr. Leslie said. 

“It’s all ‘we.’ The mission is simply to make sure that everyone knows they matter.”

The candidate forum begins at 8 p.m. Friday and will be moderated by The Blade’s Keith Burris and Lee Conklin of WTVG-TV, Channel 13.

Mr. Leslie said he has no idea what types of questions might be asked, but thought putting the questioning to the homeless and unhoused would be beneficial.

“I’ve always tried to give a voice to those who can’t be heard well,” Mr. Leslie said. 

“I was in the shower when I came up with it.”

Preparation for Tent City has been in the works for months. Work has included arranging entertainment, seeking donations, and recruiting volunteers.

Local organizations and schools have helped, too, with various donation drives. 

Perrysburg High School held a hunger banquet on Oct. 12 and raised $1,100, according to 1 Matters. 

Children at Monroe Road Elementary school donated a busload of clothing, Mr. Leslie said.

One of Tent City’s largest undertakings is project connect, which starts at 9 a.m. Oct. 24 and offers hot meals, warm clothing, haircuts, medical services, and social services.

A complete schedule of Tent City events is at​tentcity.

Mr. Leslie said there is a great need for volunteers. 

Volunteers can sign up for as many shifts as they like, each broken into four-hour blocks. Registration is on the Tent City website.

Contact Taylor Dungjen at, or 419-724-6054, or on Twitter @taylordungjen.

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