Vagrant Camp Proposal DOA

     Looks like the Fort Lauderdale City Commission’s latest plan to open a Vagrant Feeding Camp off Sunrise Boulevard is dead on arrival. ( thank God ! )

     The proposal, which passed out of the Commission Conference meeting just yesterday, with Seiler, Rogers, and Roberts in favor of the feeding center, and Rodstrom and Dubose opposing, didn’t last 24 hours.
     This morning the building owner apparently balked at the short term lease of 3 months. That detail had been proposed by Mayor Seiler, who favored a short term trial period in case the feeding center had problems.

     This e-mail was received by the Commission this morning from Genia Ellis, member of the homeless task force. Ellis is also member of the Fort Lauderdale Woman’s Club that sits next to Stranahan Park where most of the feeding currently occurs.

…..                     Ellis’s e-mail follows …..

“Rumor from the property owner is that a 90 day arrangement probably won’t be acceptable so we are likely back to no site  – and – according to Harry’s comment, we probably would not have complied with the walking distance of the court order.  One can understand that a property owner would need a reasonable commitment and would step back.  We also understand the fiscal challenge of the city.  There is not easy solution however one needs to be found – the public and residents have rights and considerations that should be respected and addressed as well.

     Designate a city garage or public lot in the downtown for the interim until you can give us a city site downtown.  This would not be my choice but in the absence of foreseeable location, I am willing to try anything.  It is pointless to random search for district locations until you address downtown.  Commissioner Rodstrom offered this 2 years ago and it got no traction however I will tell you that in the absence of any place – a garage with portable bathrooms and picnic tables is better than the dirt on the ground…..recognizing that there is a loss in parking revenue.

     For over 2 years the Fort Lauderdale Woman’s Club and Public Library have endured and begged for some help.  Children have stopped coming to the library or using the park for anything.  The City is no longer doing mid day events in Stranahan as they have done for year because the business people in town stopped coming for being harassed. The downtown residents and businesses are also suffering from the lack of action and the increase in the homeless population. While we talk about “NIMBY”  – this is their backyard and we are ignoring their needs.  We have lost the use of our public parks because of fear, filth, abuse and control.  Panhandling is aggressive and frightening, incidents of bad behavior are on the rise, arrests in the park are increasing because of the population that is there – and they are not just the homeless but the thugs that mingle in for cover.

     Currently we must scrub all of the picnic tables and benches every Saturday morning before the public arrives at 8 AM for the Urban Market because of the feces, alcohol and vomit that is left overnight by those sleeping on that equipment.  The Park Rangers have to remove the drunks routinely on Saturday morning.

     Downtown is our hub and our city face….it is a place that we have all worked very hard to revitalize and activate.  It is a primary economic driver for our city.

     Reconsider some of the city properties in the downtown in the interim as we search for district locations….please just make a concerted effort to start to do something.

     I urge you to take a proactive role in finding a solution and location  –  as a member of the Task Force we are very frustrated because of the changing direction and the lack of a cohesive commitment of the Commission.  I recognize that you all are concerned about those in need – we just need to do something about it.   Help us find an answer before we lose the commitment of those that have remained at the table all of this time.  Most will seek other ways to be effective”.

      I’ll keep you apprised of further developments! ….Tim

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