Lakeland Seeking Ways To Handle Homelessness

Jul 22, 2010 Full story: The Ledger 11

Effort to outlaw camping would replace obsolete rule on books. MICHAEL WILSON THE LEDGER Buy photo Lakeland Police Homeless Outreach Officer Marcus Baker talks to a group of homeless people, from left to right: Tommy Allen, Mary Jane Kirsch, and James Foster.

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Yeah Right

Lakeland, FL

#1 Jul 23, 2010
I have to laugh every few years when this topic comes up. Oh my! What do we do about all the transients? Close the damn Talbot House and all those other shelters downtown. The homeless flock to where they can get free food (DUH). Lakeland has a reputation in the hobo community as a good place to spend the winter. They've come here from far and wide for over 35 years. I refuse to shop/eat downtown because of all the panhandling drunks. You want a nice downtown Lakeland? Shut down all those shelters! I feel sorry for the truly down and out who want to work, but that's probably less than 5% of the homeless population. The rest are just bums living off of other people's misguided good intentions. Run the bums out of town and clean up our city.

Since: Jul 10

Location hidden

#2 Jul 23, 2010
How about we help these poor people down on their luck instead of punishing them?

The homeless in Lakeland are no more of an eyesore than all the abandoned run down buildings and trashy areas that litter this city. The city should find a legal area that these people can be without fear of being of getting in trouble. There are all kinds of abandoned lots that could be used as a safe legal place to sleep. Find the owners and get permission and post enter at your own risk signs to avoid liability issues. That would keep them from camping in the immediate downtown area.

Most people don't choose or want to be homeless and there is no sense in kicking people when they down.
Yeah Right

Winter Haven, FL

#3 Jul 24, 2010
My family ran a small gas station in downtown Lakeland in the 80s. The homeless problem was just as bad then as it is today. I tried to help some of them out by paying them (well) for doing odd jobs. They repaid me by: Breaking into and trashing the rest rooms. Stealing what ever wasn't bolted down whenever you turned your back. Breaking into and stealing from customer's cars. Sleeping in and throwing up in my car. Urinating and defecating all over the property. Breaking glass and smashing bottles. You name it, they did it. 90% of these people don't want to work or will only work as long as it takes to earn enough money to buy a quart of malt liquor. Go ahead and build your compassionate Obama tent city. If you didn't set limits on how long they could stay, most of them would still be there years later. If you set out rat food, rats will come. Get rid of the free food and shelter and they will leave.

Since: Aug 10

Location hidden

#4 Aug 1, 2010
Yes,alcoholism is one of the biggest factors for homelessness in Lakeland, but there are other factors as well. Disabilities, new and old contribute greatly also.there are very few, if any law firms that help indigant people there to file for there ssi's, or ssdi's on the terms that an indigent person could follow. There should be a way for Lakeland homeless shelters to become more connected to more organizations and lawyers so they could at least classify the homeless into groups, such as: the drunks, the dopers, the simply unemployed, the disabled etc. and try to help each of the different categories of people for their own problems. The Catholic Charities in Pinellas County has a wonderful way of dealing with this problem by doing just that. the place is called Pinellas Hope and it is a place set aside to help the homeless, not merely feed them, but actually help their reasons. It's like a "tent city"and it is more isolated geographically than the shelters in Lakeland. The bus lines help by donating 1 month bus passes to screened applicants who need them for dr.s appts, job hunting etc. Pinellas Hope also provides ways and means to get I.D CARDS, DRIVER LICENCES,LEGAL HELP,HOUSING,MEDICAL HELP,CHRISTIAN COUNSELING, GUIDANCE ETC., ON A MORE PERSONAL LEVEL, IF YOU REALLY WANT IT. I lived in Lakeland for over 30 years and have slept in every shelter and every "SAFE" place on the streets in Lakeland and I'm telling you that Lakeland, and Polk County addresses the homeless issue very poorly. When I became disabled and in ruin ,my wife and I had no other alternative than to live any way we could, and this entailed sleeping in bushes together for a time, seemingly disconnected from the world by homelessness and disability. We will never forget the way that people gawked at us for having to walk everywhere we went, all sweaty and gasping for breath, like we were criminals and classified as dead people walking, I shudder at the memories. we know that there is a good way to deal with the reasons for homelessness because we have been there and are there no longer, thanks to the grace of god and the help of Pinellas hope and Catholic Charities, and Pinellas County. We now live in Pinellas county, in our home because somebody cared enough to help us get connected . Thank you a miilion times to Pinellas Hope and The Catholic Charities and Pinellas county, and especially GOD, we love you all
one fourth aviation

Andrews, TX

#5 Jan 7, 2012
i was in the military with baker, he was one heck of a guy
Anonymous

Ash Flat, AR

#6 Jan 8, 2012
I used to live in Lakeland. The majority of homeless people are decent folks. The one's who can work look for and find work, the ones who have social security move on to other shelters as their checks are not enough to pay rent and live, there are families in crisis often when men do not want to be responsible husbands and fathers, there are veterans, and many people who just either got sick and behind in their rent, or need medical/dental care to return to work..I could go on. Very few of the homeless are drunks or "lazy". Those are the only ones you see, as the others for the most part are normal everyday people, so you wouldn't know they were homeless if you saw them. So you have no fair basis to compare or to judge.
Indira

Mclean, VA

#8 Jan 31, 2012
Yes itís getting out of hand to be honest. I canít even buy decent stuff downtown without bumping into a couple of bums. I was supposed to buy a new grill but I decided to get it online instead. Hereís where I got it: http://charbroilpatiogrills.com/
polk co unemployed

United States

#9 Jun 4, 2013
Thank you for assisting the homeless who are really needy. My husband and I have just become homeless with our 2 mini daschunds on memorial day. He is disabled and I lost my job Oct 2012. After exhausting all savings and selling items we finally lost everything.
I haven't been able to find a job in winter haven and am a pharmacy tech. Rita staffing has not placed me either.
John

Clearwater, FL

#10 Jun 7, 2013
As an update - Talbot House Ministries in downtown Lakeland has restructured their program(s). Instead of just keeping homeless people off the street(s) and, hopefully, sober, they have created a new program which does attend to the needs of the homeless that WANT to be helped. They can get their I.D.'s, licenses, psych counseling, legal problems reversed, SSI's, SSDI's,- all through various counseling practices and lawyers in the Lakeland area. Also, they have a new Jobs Program similar to Polk Works which partners Talbot House and the local business cummunity. Many clients have been placed into full-time working positions through this program.

Sure, there are quite a few homeless in Lakeland who will refuse to better themselves, and that is mostly because they don't HAVE to do anything - at all! They receive unemployment or Social Security and are satisfied their needs are met by the shelters in every way..

I've also seen many people go through these programs, getting all their 'papers'- birth certificates; licenses; id's; fines paid; medical attention.. just to wind up right back on the front stoop, sitting on the curb in front of the shelters drinking and drugging. Six months later, they were back in the program doing it all over again. There are many who have gone through this process 3-4-5 times! They refuse to change. They refuse to change ANY of their habits for the better. These people will be sitting outside the shelters from now till the end of time.

I don't believe they should be driven away - pushed aside. I do believe this is a problem in need of a solution. There may be little hope for the current homeless, but we could focus our efforts on the youth making sure they don't become our future homeless. This would allow the current homeless population to trickle down via attrition. Difficult to do in the economic times.
Nicki

United States

#11 Nov 19, 2014
Yeah Right wrote:
I have to laugh every few years when this topic comes up. Oh my! What do we do about all the transients? Close the damn Talbot House and all those other shelters downtown. The homeless flock to where they can get free food (DUH). Lakeland has a reputation in the hobo community as a good place to spend the winter. They've come here from far and wide for over 35 years. I refuse to shop/eat downtown because of all the panhandling drunks. You want a nice downtown Lakeland? Shut down all those shelters! I feel sorry for the truly down and out who want to work, but that's probably less than 5% of the homeless population. The rest are just bums living off of other people's misguided good intentions. Run the bums out of town and clean up our city.
I can't believe what I just read! EVERYONE needs help at some point in their life. By the way, those "bums" are people, too. It's a shame that people can't just love each other regardless of circumstances. I'd rather have misguided good intentions than a cold heart.
mccabe8006

United States

#12 Nov 19, 2014
I am an evangelist / street preacher in Lakeland,FL
We feed the homeless in our city through the HEART FOR THE LOST MINISTRY, I completely agree with what these Ministers are doing!
It is our duty and obligation to reach out to the lost, hurting, Hungery in our cities!
How else are we going to affect a change in their lives? Unless we first show them the Same Love That God Showed Us!
This is what will make a change in their lives, not strict rules, regulations, ordinances!
Feed the Hungery, Clothes the Poor, This is a Command of Jesus Himself!
Who's got more Authority, God? Or our cities officials?
We need to do all we can for these unfortunate people that our society has chosen to overlook!
Bless All Of You For Your Efforts!
Rev Bruce D. McCabe

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