Community advocates push for help for homeless

Push for help for homeless
Posted at 12:25 AM, Apr 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-15 00:25:20-04

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Fox 4 is seeking solutions as people experiencing homelessness now tell us they've lost one of the last places they had to go.

Fort Myers police enforced an existing rule, saying anyone on the grounds of the Fort Myers Regional Libary would be charged with trespassing.

Fox 4 speaks to a community advocate about how she’s fighting for answers.

“Our hands are kind of tied but we’re not backing down, ”

People struggling with homelessness tell us they are no longer allowed to rest outside the downtown Fort Myers library.

Local shelters don't have enough beds to accommodate all the people without homes in the heat of the COVID-19 pandemic.

When we interviewed one man last night, he told us that police recommended he seek shelter in the woods.

“Animals belong in the woods, ” said Ramona Miller.

Community advocate, Ramona Miller says city leaders are not doing enough to ensure to safety of the homeless population.

“As far as real help there isn’t any real help,” said Miller.

“We have people with mental health issues out here, we have people in wheelchairs, we have women that do not have a place to stay,” said Ramona Miller.

We reached out to the city to get a response to the growing problem. The public information officer, Stephanie Schaffer, gave us this statement:

The City of Fort Myers is providing amenities in traditional areas where parks facilities are currently closed due to COVID-19 concerns. The Lee County library offers WiFi during business hours so that the public can access Human and Veterans Services websites, among others if needed.

The city has conducted additional outreach to the homeless population though distributing prevention information at food distribution sites throughout the city, with materials printed in English, Spanish and Haitian Creole. Other resources are available on the city’s COVID-19 website.

Some people are asking for more.

One man told me he would like to see the city use some of the facilities that are now closed - including empty sports stadiums.

“We got enough showers here to do this we could get the red cross to man it, ” said Willie Shotmiller.

A young woman, who volunteered tonight to feed those experiencing homelessness says we all play a part in coming together to help one another.

“Anything even if it is just giving them a warm blanket, or something that is open for them just to lay somewhere, ” said Mikayah Hayden.

Fox 4 is committed to following the issue of homelessness in fort Myers. We have reached out to several city leaders and will sure bring you responses as soon as possible.