SARASOTA - 'Not in my backyard.' That's what many people in Sarasota's Rosemary District are now saying after noticing an increase in the homeless population.
"Residents are a little bit afraid because they're there all night," says Eric Chlebowski.
He is referring to the increased number of homeless people many say now pack the streets in the Rosemary District north of downtown Sarasota. "Near the Salvation Army, on both sides of it and across the street, they alway congregate at the cemetery but now they have come down to 8th street and past where the furniture store is," said Chlebowski.
He also says the homeless are doing more than just hanging out along Central Avenue. "I found people camped out on the property and usually with a situation like this more crime comes, we've had more bicycles stolen this year than in a couple of years."
Officials from the Sarasota Police Department agree saying there have been an increase in the number of disturbances. Residents say the homeless gather in the area waiting for meals from the Salvation Army. But, with the increased complaints the organization has threatened to decrease services in hopes of cutting down on the amount of homeless hanging out in the area.
"I was very angry because I was like what now," said homeless person Dawn Christian.
Christian says the situation has left many of the homeless with even less options, but still she understands both sides of the issue. "People were urinating and defecating on bushes and over where the motor home would be parked on Sundays stinks. It's gross! Some of us can't stop those who don't want to stop and are disrespectful."
This past weekend there was a compromise of sorts when many of the homeless camping out at the Rosemary Cemetery, went around the area and cleaned up along Central Avenue.