CLEARWATER, Fla. (CBS Tampa) – Around the city, bathroom doors have been welded shut and power has been cut from public parks, all in an effort to discourage the homeless from inhabiting easily accessible areas.
A hose used for water by the homeless has also reportedly been removed from Station Square Park.
According to a report from the Tampa Bay Times, the efforts began after incidents of prostitution, drug use and sleeping in illegal areas were brought to the attention of Clearwater officials.
Reports were documented in a spreadsheet carefully maintained by the city, the Times found.
Bill Horne, Clearwater’s city manager, addressed the matter last month in an e-mail obtained by the paper, in which he called the cutting of electricity in public areas a priority, and allegedly referred to Station Square Park as “a real attraction for our street homeless.”
Additionally, Robert Marbut, a homelessness consultant for Clearwater, was quoted as saying that giving away food and assisting in street survival discourages homeless people from getting “real help.”
As such, the city is now reportedly focusing on job training and employment services.
The measures have received both positive and negative feedback from the community. Those who decry the actions, such as local resident Shannon O’Leary-Beck, feel they won’t serve as a true solution.
“There really isn’t a homeless problem at that park. It’s the same guys every day. We know a lot of them by name,” she said to the paper. “The whole thing is just mind-boggling. … this is not going to solve the problem.”
The Times also found evidence that the city has slashed spending for assisting the destitute, with only $175,000 spend on social services geared toward those living below the poverty line.
The figure represents a staggering drop from the reported $800,000 spent four years ago in the same areas.