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Monday, June 05, 2023

Shelters prepared for homeless relocation

St. Francis House is ready.

The relocation process of Tent City, a homeless encampment near South Main Street, will begin Wednesday.

St. Francis House is one of the shelters that will take people in from Tent City.

Kent Vann, executive director, said they are prepared for small groups.

Vann said the city has set aside about ,62,000 for the efforts of The Salvation Army and St. Francis House.

This includes funding for the increased amount of space, food and utilities used.

"It's hard to say what to anticipate. It's really no different than what we deal with every day," he said.

Vann said he doesn't expect many problems.

"The biggest problem will be for us to find affordable housing," he said. "There's not an abundance of affordable housing at all."

It's going to take cooperation between agencies to make it successful for the people taking advantage of all the provided services, he said.

So far, about 12 to 15 shelter beds are available for residents in Tent City.

City spokesman Bob Woods said once bed space is filled, the relocation process will stop until more beds are available.

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"We want to insure that we will be able to provide emergency shelter housing for every individual," Woods said.

This week the Gainesville Police started posting trespass notices to warn homeless people of the pending relocation.

Woods said starting Wednesday, official trespass notices and emergency shelter vouchers will be passed out by Gainesville police.

The voucher will enable them to obtain bed space at either The Salvation Army or St. Francis House. If a person has serious health issues, other arrangements will be made, Woods said.

Each individual will have five days to use the voucher.

In August, City Commission decided, in a 5 to 1 vote, that all homeless people living on the public property of Tent City would have to be relocated.

Woods said, "If private-property owners say that anyone living on their property is trespassing, they can request assistance from the GPD."

However, that's not the main focus of the city's involvement with Tent City.

"What we're really concerned about is moving people off the public lands in that area," he said.

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