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Sarasota Handling Of Homeless In National Spotlight

The Associated Press has published a story detailing Sarasota's recent dealings with homelesness.

Sarasota's homelesness issue is part of a national media spotlight after The Associated Press published a report Friday rehashing the city's recent events over the last two years.

The report, "Homeless are a challenge for Sarasota, Fla.," by AP correspondant Tamara Lush, goes over much of what has been reported by area media and Patch for the last two years:

And then there are the things Sarasota visitors and residents see every day, reported, including the homeless at the SCAT transfer station, at the library, throughout downtown, without much help for services.

The report was originally published on NECN.com in Massachusettes, also appears in The Miami Herald and has been picked up so far by The Boston Globe, The Galveston Daily Times in Texas, The Edwardsville Intelligencer in Illinois.

The story places the blame and crux of the battle between new residents with wealth and says, without a direct source, the AP reports that "they" are pressuring police to run the homeless out of town:

"Newer, wealthy residents in the Gulf Coast city known for its arts scene and beautiful beaches are buying expensive downtown condos so they can live an urban lifestyle - but don't want the problems associated with a city, including the 700 or so homeless people who inhabit the county, the American Civil Liberties Union and others contend.

They also say authorities, including police, are trying to harass the homeless into leaving the town of 53,000 full-time residents."

Because of that wealth and upscale image, homeless have a tough go of it in Sarasota because affordable housing is hard to find, Leslie Loveless, interim executive director of Suncoast Partnership to End Homeless, told the AP:

"We need to look at transitional and permanent housing that's affordable," she said.

The Center for Housing Policy concluded that in late 2011, only 28 percent of the jobs in the area could earn enough to afford a two-bedroom apartment. To qualify as "affordable," rent must be less than 30 percent of monthly income.

One homeless person, James Franklin Jr., told the reporter he doesn't have issues with the city or police, but that respect must be maintained for the homeless.

Is this is a fair, accurate assessment of Sarasota? What does this national story do for Sarasota's image? Tell us in the comments.

nancy January 19, 2013 at 05:52 PM
St. Petersburg, Fl solved their homeless-vagrant situation after years and years of abuse from the homeless folks. They literally moved them out of the city. No more 'in your face' panhandling, congregating on city benches so no one else could sit and enjoy that beautiful city, no more listening to foul language, little or no foraging in garbage bins or waving and talking to invisible friends or sleeping in doorways or under beautiful trees next to beautiful little lakes downtown. St. Pete would not allow Salvation Army to create a facility in the downtown. Yeah! Why does Sarasota continue to get such publicity about this issue. The police are doing their job. Thank you very much! Let's give the publicity to North Trail and the vast amount of hookers, johns, incredible drug traffic, homeless staying at the seedy motels and their stay presumably paid by Salvation Army, numerous burglaries and car jacking, lots of assaults right on the trail (pity the poor tourist who decides to take a nice walk 8 blocks from downtown), Why not the publicity to this very real problem?
nancy January 19, 2013 at 05:54 PM
Please, please write our new city manager and THANK HIM for someone finally taking the reasonable stance against this problem....writing right now. And, judging from what has been written here, we're sick of it and won't take them no more!
Homelessness News San Diego January 19, 2013 at 06:56 PM
Tom, Do you have data to back up the claim that people who are homeless flock to Florida from other states?
Tom Romano January 19, 2013 at 07:19 PM
It is common sense that people who are homeless in inclement climate States will try to migrate to a warmer climate. We have people here from as far away as Minnesota, Detroit, and Oklahoma, as well as Tennessee, Georgia, and Mississippi. St. Pete had a great plan and Sarasota could benefit by following them
Tom Romano January 19, 2013 at 07:20 PM
I agree with you 101% Flying Dog. I live very close to your Cafe
Ward Pallotta January 19, 2013 at 07:24 PM
In Cleveland, Ohio the city and the county share the bulk of the cost for a 400-bed men's shelter, operated by Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry since 2005 (previously it was Salvation Army). A community partnership has been established with small businesses with residents providing cleanup and security for employees. A garden run by shelter residents and community volunteers provides food for the shelter kitchen. Nonprofit enterprises to teach job skills are now operating out of the shelter to build and market bicycle racks and to operate a central kitchen for the community. People who arrive at the shelter under the influence are provided a safe place to sleep and support the next morning. Sarasota city/county and Salvation Army have a lot of catching up to do.
Tom Romano January 19, 2013 at 07:24 PM
Because the St. Pete authorities took the bull by the horns and solved the problem!! Sarasota authorities lack that kind of intelligence and boldness and let the media have a field day
Tom Romano January 19, 2013 at 07:29 PM
Putting the Salvation Army almost in the heart of downtown further fuels the problem. Cleveland is showing us and St. Pete is showing us some solutions, yet Sarasota is deaf, dumb, and blind to any sensible solution. We were able to find Osama Bin Laden but we cant find a problem for our homeless in Sarasota?
Homelessness News San Diego January 19, 2013 at 07:35 PM
You might want to verify that by checking your area's CoC AHAR data. Both rate of homelessness for your area and last zip code of residence before becoming homeless will give you a good idea if that is correct. Common Sense does not equal Data but nice try!!! Of course there will be people from other states but then again I am sure people leave Florida when they become homeless also.
Tom Romano January 19, 2013 at 07:39 PM
With our present economy. hundreds of thousands of foreclosures, and companies shutting down or laying off, we now have some homeless people who are that way through no fault of their own. These are the people we need to stop calling vagrants & bums. Those that flat out refuse to help themselves are the true vagrants & bums.
Michael Raffoni January 19, 2013 at 07:41 PM
Love your second paragraph and couldn't agree more. Great how the so-called press (which has sadly been pretty much reduced to nothing more then sensationalistic supermarket-isle dribble) cherry-picks photos and facts to promote their slant.
Michael Raffoni January 19, 2013 at 07:44 PM
Go get'em Rich. Love when you stir it up.
Tom Romano January 19, 2013 at 07:44 PM
Those several "regulars" roaming the streets,and mumbling to themselves are NOT homeless people. They are our City Council members!!!!!!
Michael January 19, 2013 at 07:57 PM
"They" in the article would be condo owners near Five Points Park. Emails sent to City Hall by Phil Grande and others document the vehement complaints and pressure to remove the homeless at any cost. City officials caved into that pressure and ordered a crackdown. The results are what we've seen in numerous new news articles over the past year. The courts have repeatedly ruled against the City's efforts, finding the actions unconstitutional in several decisions. I would say the article accurately portrays the image of the City Commission and their knee-jerk reaction to a vocal minority. This is not what Sarasota needs and does not reflect the sentiments of a majority of residents.
Michael Raffoni January 19, 2013 at 09:33 PM
I find it incredibly inaccurate that Sarasota has this "bad" rep in the press with regard to the treatment of its homeless and vagrants, as the word on the street among these individuals is quite the opposite. Why didn't the press actually "ask" or invertiew responsible Salvation Army and Goodwll reps? Why didn't they actually "talk" with homeless individuals instead of taking the easy course and relying on soundbites of people that like to sound like they know what they are talking about? "Michael" - do you actually live or work in the downtown area?
Michael January 19, 2013 at 09:57 PM
I live and work in the core downtown area. The article indicates that the reporter interviewed many individuals, including the homeless. I don't know what you mean by interviewing "responsible" individuals. Is there some definition of that term somewhere? Sarasota has had this reputation for many years because of incidents like the recent ones. It's not just the homeless that are affected. For a recent example of how others are treated including, perhaps, the "responsible" individuals that you refer to, check out http://newsleader.uberflip.com/i/104211/57
Michael January 19, 2013 at 10:03 PM
I live and work in the core downtown area. The article indicated that many individuals were interviewed, including several homeless persons. I don't know what you mean by interviewing "responsible" individuals. Is there a definition of that term somewhere? Sounds very subjective to me. Sarasota has long had a national reputation for treating the homeless in this fashion based on events like those that have recently captured headlines.
Michael Raffoni January 19, 2013 at 10:15 PM
Okay... so out of all the pictures they could have attached to the article, they attach the most negative one possible? There are so many positive programs and wonderful people working with the homless in Sarasota, yet no press is afforded them. Hmm... probably wouldn't "Sell" as many papers - so to speak. With regard to interviewing homeless individuals - I only see one, and that person supports what I am saying: he has no issue with the City or the Police. Interesting...
Michael January 19, 2013 at 10:38 PM
The article quotes 2 homeless individuals. Also, what's more interesting is that since the article was written, the individual who said he had no issues with the City or Police was removed from the bench in front of City Hall. He was told he "had to go."
Michael Raffoni January 19, 2013 at 10:51 PM
So, the benches are now dwellings?
Michael January 19, 2013 at 11:22 PM
Where would you stay tonight if you didn't have a home?
Tim Van Schultz January 19, 2013 at 11:51 PM
You are right and the local press could be part of the solution. I am sure you have all seen the huge EMPTY lobby in the Herald Tribune building downtown. Well since the HT has so much to say on the subject on what everyone ELSE should do it's time for them to put up or SHUT UP. They can use the lobby of the HT as a temporary homeless shelter. They have a guard who is there all night or they can pay the Sarasota Police to have a detail officer there. Time for them to give back something to the community other than an editorial page thats suitable for the bottom of the bird cage.
Mme. d'Estape January 20, 2013 at 01:10 AM
The history of Sarasota's stiffarming the homeless is one thing. The response from current Sarasotans to the fact that the history is in the news is something else. One world that comes to mind is "pathological."
Michael Raffoni January 20, 2013 at 01:18 AM
There are facilities readily available should these individuals be willing to enroll in a program to assist them. But you should know that. There is a diference btw those down on their luck and looking for assistance and those who seek to live the life.
liam harris January 20, 2013 at 01:47 AM
I, personally, do not think a "tent city"is a solution to any more than inviting more homeless to the area. The comment "move out" means what? Where? Venice? Bradenton? Seattle solved a part of their problem years ago, they charted a bus and sent a number of homeless"vagrants" to Philadelphia, since then mayor Wilson Goode allowed them to sleep in the subway/train stations. Is this our solution?
liam harris January 20, 2013 at 01:54 AM
By the way, vagrant is correct by definition. Webster- One who wanders about with no recognized address or visible means of support.
Homelessness News San Diego January 20, 2013 at 02:13 AM
Your city might actually want to look at national best practices that are successfully being used across the country. By the way Tom Romano's tent city is NOT one of them. You can start at the National Alliance to End Homelessness website. Real solutions require real community commitment to work on a shared vision and goal of solving homelessness. There are solutions. Good luck Sarasota!
sharon January 22, 2013 at 01:21 AM
I am fortunate that I have not been homeless. Been close to it at times, but always came through. I used to eat at The Homeless Coalition in Charlotte County at times. There was a man there who looked well, raggedy. My circumstances became better, and I could buy my own food. One night at a convenience store, I saw him. Did not recognize him. He was shaved, clean, hair cut, and SMILING!!! He had finally found a job, saved his money and got an apartment. Yes, alot of homeless people are mentally ill. But, do you think a mentally ill person cannot work, care for an apt, and care for themselves given the correct meds and councelling? BTW check out mental illness services in Florida. You will draw a blank, unless you already have money.
jason harris March 28, 2013 at 12:24 AM
Hello. I live in NYC and have been led to this story as an activist that has the courage to *try* to look sum total problems in the USA without believing that any are separate from another.. about homelessness,, poverty and decline for major segments of our society are on the rise. The visible part of this is homeslessness and many many other maladies which signify a growing sickness within the USA. Unless you want to or think that building a wall around your, or any city, to keep the very clear signs of trouble outside I would really suggest zooming out, not looking at you home as NOT being a part of something greater than itself and chip into dicussion about the bloodletting that is going on, inflicted upon ALL of us by the rich, bought politicians and OUR policy makers. We are in serious trouble people and right thinking, unity and sound practice will be the only thing that saves us from power and the doing and thinking that has been the downfall of past societal beauty. GREED of a incredibly small number of us is what is causing this problem in your and my town and thousands of others in this country, I dare say world... peace, love and happy hunting my "regular" people..
Elizabeth May 10, 2013 at 04:56 PM
THANK YOU, Jason.........I applaud your comments...........creative solutions can be obtained via a mindset of "WE".........rather than "MINE"........We are all in this together.

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