Tent City Not down yet by Sally Watt01/12/07
WMNF Drive-Time News Tuesday
After fighting City Hall for the last two weeks, today was judgement day for the fifty residents of St. Petersburgs Tent City. Mayor Rick Baker said he wanted the camp closed by noon today. But the deadline came and went with no action from the city. WMNF reporter Sally Watt has the story.
With the clock ticking and no word from the Mayors office about shutting down the Tent City, the residents grew more and more angry about their tenuous living situation. This is the only permanent home many of them have had in a long time and they don’t want to have to give it up.
But Homeless advocate Pastor Bruce Wright said he’s hoping for an extension and the city’s offers of help haven’t been enough.
Wright: the basic situation is…..not adequate. 25:38
Wright says the code violation that cites Tent City for living in tents could be relaxed and there is the possibility of keeping the camp open and levying daily fines of from one dollar to 250 dollars a day is an option to be considered.
But with talks of Tent City residents living on a 24 hour basis, homeless advocate Michael Almeda says society is ignoring the bigger problem.
Almeda: where we are is ………….in the country. 29:16
The city says it spends two and a half million dollars a year on the homeless. Pinellas County Human Services Director Cliff says the city’s agencies have helped all of the Tent City residents who wanted it. Advocate Almeda says many of the city’s homeless agencies have differing agendas and the homeless are caught in the middle.
Tent City resident Mary Street has diabetes. She’s been offered a 30 day rent voucher but says it is useless.
Stuart: the first time………people around 40:51So for now, it’s wait and see. Residents are at least hoping for an extension until Tuesday. For WMNF, I’m Sally Watt