Homeless must leave Florida Avenue sidewalk

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SARASOTA, Fla. - After months of complaints from city residents, the 25-40 homeless people who live on the sidewalk adjacent to Florida Avenue must leave. Yet, they are getting some help from Sarasota's finest. 

The Sarasota Police Department issued warnings on Wednesday to those people, alerting them that if their tents and sleeping bags are still on the sidewalk by Sunday, everything will be confiscated.

"It's a violation of the law to sleep on the property, or to block the sidewalk," said Sarasota Police Chief Bernadette DiPino.

Rather than arresting the individuals, the Department is trying to assist. Police officers are looking for locations throughout the city where the homeless individuals can store some of their belongings.

Chief DiPino says the the Department is also looking to help the individuals by finding them transitional housing.  "We have an obligation as the police to enforce the laws, but also to understand and recognize that some people are sometimes not in the most fortunate positions. Being homeless is one of them," said DiPino.

Not all of those who live on the sidewalk want help. Jody Barker, who is homeless, says he doesn't expect many people in his position to take police up on the offer.  "All people are going to do now is move to the next street over, or you are going to have them scattered all around," said Barker.

If you'd like to assist the individuals who are willing to accept help, you are asked to contact the Sarasota Police Department. The Chief is looking for people who have open space to house some of those belongings.

If you are interested, contact the Sarasota Police Department at (941) 316-1199.