Sarasota commissioners delay relocating homeless

Sarasota, Florida -- Soaked by torrential rain and surrounded by strewn about possessions and pets, about 20 of Sarasota's homeless gathered in an encampment near Gillespie Park.

Monday was the deadline the evacuate and move to a temporary shelter at the Salvation Army.

"They gave us five days notice. A week or 10 days would have been more better," said one scruffy man, who stood beneath a leaking umbrella.

Going against the advice of a homeless consultant, the City of Sarasota decided to relocate the homeless from the encampment to the Salvation Army for 30 days.

It's a decision most homeless are against.

"There's a problem with the Salvation Army. It's dirty and dangerous," said one man.

Another disagrees, but believes it's not the right place for everyone.

"It's not that it's unsafe, it's that some people have disabilities and laying on a mat just isn't comfortable ... this allows me to be free."

Monday's commission meeting drew in dozens of community members, along with the homeless themselves.

After hours of discussion, a vote came down late in the night. The city will give those at the encampment two more weeks before needing to vacate. The city will, in the meantime, once again discuss options with their homeless adviser.

It's a decision that pleases many of the homeless.

"I feel like they're listening," said a woman with short, spiky hair.

She's pleased because she won't have to leave her fiance of 10 years, separated in gender-segregated housing at the Salvation Army.

"It'll certainly do. We were up at 5 a.m. packing up. It's like packing up a house."


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