Homeless Will be Forced to Vacate Tent City
It's a refuge for over 100 homeless people in Gainesville, but now they'll have to live somewhere other than "Tent City".
After recent concerns over public health and safety, the city commission voted on Monday to slowly make the residents move out of the homeless encampment located near Downtown.
City officials say more than 20 violent criminals live in "Tent City", and that over three tons of garbage was removed from the area in the month of April alone.
Under the adopted plan, the city will pay for beds at the Salvation Army and St. Francis House and will slowly move the homeless out of the 100-acre woods that is half public property, half privately owned.
"The city property is an old landfill and compost facility, and we're actually under a consent order with the Florida Dept. of Enviroment Protection to prevent any other use of the land," said Lee Ann Lowery, Assistant City Manager for the City of Gainesville.
But of the homeless who live in "tent City" say the city's solution will only create a new problem.
"You throw these people out on the street, where are they gonna go? They're going to be sleeping behind buildings, behind people's houses," said Charles Stearns, a homeless man who spoke at the city commission meeting on behalf of his so-called "neighbors".
The commissioners also decided to declare a state of emergency at the shelters and add an additional 12 beds, and will increase funding for the relocation project from $20 thousand to 62 thousand.
They'll also be offering hotel and campground vouchers for homeless people from "Tent City" who can't stay at the shelters because of health needs, and will expanding the city's Homeward Bound program.
As for the proposed One-Stop Homeless help center, the commissioners decided to remove that item from their agenda Monday and discuss it at their next meeting on August 23rd.
By David Hamilton, WCJB TV20 News
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