I was at 7-11 this morning, just around the corner, just shy of a block. I had a hankering for a Perrier. Now, don’t judge. I’m fond of bubbly water….and Perrier is actually not as expensive as you might think. So, it was about 7:30 when I strolled up to find a couple of police cars. I hesitated, as one might, thinking perhaps they had been robbed. But, I was wrong.
Upon entering I over heard the cops telling the store manager that they wouldn’t have a problem with the homeless in the area anymore. Apparently, last night, the police had done a sweep up and down the Mills/50 area and had arrested most of them. I just quietly overheard all this as I was wandering past them, through the store and towards the back to get my Perrier. So, this is all hear say, so to speak, but I can’t imagine why they would lie.
But, just to be sure, I grabbed my water and just did a walk around the neighborhood. The usual homeless men (and one lady with a shopping cart named Brenda) were all gone. I saw a random shoe, a sock, a small cardboard sign with the usual hope for money or employment scribbled on tossed to the side of a Vietnamese grocer, and a few strategically placed police cruisers in parking lots near where the homeless used to sit for the day….but none of the homeless were there.
I came back home and started knitting my teddy bears, and as can’t be helped, no matter how hard I try, my mind did it’s best to positive and thoughtful. The mayor had said he wanted to confront the problem of chronic homelessness in Orlando with kindness. Money was going to be added to the city’s budget. And there was a circuit court judge a few months ago that had demanded the homeless no longer be forced to pay ridiculous fines for “vagrancy.”
Perhaps it’s denial, perhaps it’s a an actual scenario. But, as I was knitting I kept thinking that perhaps this was a good thing. Perhaps they had been gathered, taken to jail, given three meals a day for the weekend, a safe place to sleep, showers…..and hopefully, some diagnosis, and that those that were in need of mental help would be moved out of jail and to facilities that were now budget to help them; that those with addiction problems would be seen before a judge and that the court would recommend counseling, thanks to the additional funds in the budget; that those who were just hard on their luck would get some quick, necessary, imperative guidance and help to get them back on their feet, with some of the extra funds in the budget…..
And I so hope that the money budget allotted to fix the homeless crisis in Orlando was not intended for more shelters, but towards active, rehabilitative, meaningful diagnosis and assistance. No more buildings. We have enough shelters. More shelters sadly only seems to equate with more homeless.
One can only hope and pray that this was what the city meant when it said it wanted to drastically confront in a kind way the problem of chronic homelessness in Orlando….
Or can only hope and pray that they weren’t rounded up and removed from view to keep from tarnishing the City Beautiful.
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