Sage Lewis

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Sage Lewis
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Born (1971-09-28) September 28, 1971 (age 50)
NationalityAmerican
CitizenshipUnited States
Occupation
  • Activist
  • Small business owner

Sage Frederick Lewis (born September 28, 1971) is an American homeless activist and small business owner. He is best known for allowing homeless people to create a 50 person homeless-run tent village on his private property in Akron, Ohio that included laundry, food, clothing and a computer lab which was intended as a model for using private land to help homeless people.[1]

Business Background

Sage Lewis started a digital marketing company with his wife, Rocky Lewis, in 1999. It grew to 25 people with annual earnings of up to $1.5 million at its peak. The 2009 recession gutted the business leveling it to 3 employees where it has since remained.[2]

He is also an auctioneer[3], Realtor and licensed gun dealer.

Mayoral Candidate

With no previous political experience, Sage chose to run as an Independent for Akron mayor in 2015.[4] While he was not able to get on the ballot due to signatures that didn't validate, the time he spent on the street was significant in him being exposed to the homeless crisis in his hometown. This experience was the catalyst that led him to his work with the homeless.

Homeless Tent Village

In January 2017, Summit County Summit Metro Parks closed a tent community that was to make way for a new trail called Freedom Trail.[5] A few of the homeless that had already setup a thrift store at Sage Lewis' property at 15 Broad Street began staying at his building. This was the beginning of what would become a 50 person tent village. This village, along with Sage's work, was highly covered and documented by a wide variety of news sources.[6][7][8]. He and the village were also the topic of a documentary the was shown at the Cleveland International Film Festival.[9]

ACLU of Ohio, the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless, other nonprofits and an assortment of local urban planning, law and housing policy professors sent a letter to the city of Akron imploring them to keep the village.[10]

The homeless-run tent village existed between January 2017 and January 2019 until it was ultimately forced to close by Akron City Council in an 8-4 vote in September of 2018.[11]

Houses As Transitional Homeless Shelter

After the forced closure of the tent village, Sage began setting his focus on renovating houses to use for transitional shelter for homeless people.[12] The charity Sage runs currently has two houses in operation along with a homeless day center.

Court Case

After the closure of the tent village, the Libertarian law firm Institute for Justice represented Lewis pro-bono to appeal his case in the Summit County Court of Common Pleas, where they’ve already filed a separate but related complaint against the city on the basis that government has infringed on Lewis’ constitutional right to shelter the needy on his private property.[13][14][15]

Controversy

The mayor of Akron, Dan Horrigan, notably wrote an op-ed slamming Sage. "For all the posturing, loud impassioned speeches, blog posts, public requests for donations and edgy movie posters depicting him as some type of savior, Sage Lewis has made little progress on actually moving the needle on homelessness."[16]

References

  1. Smith, Mitch (2018-10-16). "Why a Private Landowner Is Fighting to Keep the Homeless on His Property". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-07-04.
  2. II, James Bigley. "Remember Tent City". clevelandmagazine.com. Retrieved 2019-07-04.
  3. "When Akron failed the homeless, he took matters into his own hands". Washington Examiner. 2018-10-17. Retrieved 2019-07-04.
  4. "Unlikely candidate makes case to be Akron mayor". WKYC. Retrieved 2019-07-04.
  5. Bhatia, Kabir. "Homeless People In Akron Have Some Ideas After Being Asked to Leave the Freedom Trail". www.wksu.org. Retrieved 2019-07-04.
  6. Livingston, Doug. "Akron's homeless build new lives at Second Chance Village". Akron Beacon Journal. Retrieved 2019-07-04.
  7. Bivins, Brittany. "Akron homeless advocates fight for 'Tent City'". cleveland19.com. Retrieved 2019-07-04.
  8. Rudell, Tim. "Akron Tries To House Homeless While It Shutters Tent City". radio.wosu.org. Retrieved 2019-07-04.
  9. "Inside Akron's Tent City - Episode 1 - A Different Kind of Shelter - Cleveland International Film Festival :: March 25 - April 5, 2020". www.clevelandfilm.org. Retrieved 2019-07-04.
  10. Grzegorek, Vince. "ACLU of Ohio, Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless and Others Implore Akron Planning Commission to Protect 'Second Chance Village" Homeless Camp". Cleveland Scene. Retrieved 2019-07-04.
  11. "Homeless people forced to clear out of Ohio tent city". AP NEWS. 2019-01-05. Retrieved 2019-07-04.
  12. Rudell, Tim. "Second Chance Village Founder Has a New Plan to Help the Homeless". www.wksu.org. Retrieved 2019-07-04.
  13. Livingston, Doug. "A final loss at City Hall sends Akron's homeless tent city to the courts". Akron Beacon Journal. Retrieved 2019-07-04.
  14. Simpson, Jeff Rowes and Diana. "Jeff Rowes and Diana Simpson: Sage Lewis and the freedom to help those most in need". Akron Beacon Journal. Retrieved 2019-07-04.
  15. "Akron's Tent City landowner fighting to continue community". WEWS. 2019-01-25. Retrieved 2019-07-04.
  16. Horrigan, Dan. "Dan Horrigan: Let's clean up the picture on the Homeless Charity". Akron Beacon Journal. Retrieved 2019-07-04.

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