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As Lions Park cleared, some find alternative housing solutions

Posted at 4:32 PM, Mar 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-20 16:32:50-04

FORT MYERS, FLA — After a week in lions park, Rebecca traded sleeping under the stars for a bed.

"I didn't think it was going to happen, but they did come through and I was surprised," she said, "I'm ready to start a new chapter."

She's one of the dozens of people offered temporary housing Friday, while Lee County works to find her something a little more permanent.

And as the park cleared out, she told FOX 4 that one motto is what's getting her through.

"Think for today. Look forward to the future and try not to think about the past," she said.

But across the park, we found a familiar face from previous stories, Dawn Cullen, who told us she's in the same county housing program, but it didn't quite work out for her.

"I went to the place. It was unsafe. I didn't feel safe there. So I told them I couldn't stay there," she said, "There were Pitbulls tied up, a lot of drugs."

That was a week ago, since then she says she's been reaching out for help.

She even went to the city council meeting Monday to complain.

And they told her the City Manager would get her help.

But Friday, all he told her to do was to keep calling her case manager until she got an answer.

So she did. Three times. And there was no answer.

So FOX 4 called the county's Human Services department.

A woman there told us they were familiar with Cullen's case. She claimed that Cullen's case manager was trying to find her something new, but added that "it would take time." She also told us that technically because Cullen turned down housing, she could be barred from the housing program for a year.

In a statement, the county also offered her a bed at the Salvation Amy's Triage Center, but Cullen refused because she said she had a bad experience there before. And when she asked about a hotel room, which was offered to others at the park, she got no response.

"I feel terribly let down by the county," said Cullen.

With Cullen facing the possibility of sleeping in her car, FOX 4 made a call to local homeless and anti-human trafficking advocate Ramona Miller.

And after multiple phone calls and a few trips across the city.

Cullen was placed in the last room at a Fort Myers motel.

But Cullen's story doesn't end there, come Monday morning she's hoping to follow-up with Lee County to see if another apartment would be offered to her.