SARASOTA - The clock is ticking for the homeless people camped out along Florida Avenue in Sarasota. The group was told the leave their area near downtown Sarasota that many of them are now calling home. Their original move out date was set for Sunday, but the group has been given an extension.
"I used to be a carpenter, and it seems like the Spanish or whatever are getting all the carpenter and construction jobs, so it’s put me out of work.” Robert Treb is now one the many homeless people who have made the sidewalk along Florida Avenue just south of 10th Street his home. But Sarasota Police have given the group notice. "We have to leave. (Where are you going to go?) Ahh…to another sidewalk or something."
That deadline was on Sunday, but the group was given a three day extension that ends this Wednesday. So Treb and everyone else camping there will have to pick up their belongings and head out. “It ain’t right to be out here like this, but where else can you go?"
There is one place they could go, but according to ACLU officials that option is being stalled by the city. "We have been working on trying to get the property so they can go, set up tents, port-a-pottys, just as an interim basis until something permanent can come up. But unfortunately the city has thrown up every obstacle that it can," says Michael Barfield of the ACLU legal panel.
Non-profit outreach organization Trinity Without Borders was able to secure donated land and the group set up a temporary tent city for the homeless. But due to zoning issues, they were told to remove the tents, once again leaving the homeless without any options. “They are making it difficult, through difficult zoning approval. They’re not allowing the project to go forward without the proper zoning,” says Trinity volunteer Michael Zarzano.
"It’s been a well-documented effort to criminalize being homeless and poor, and we don't think that's right," says Barfield.