Is There a Homelessness Issue in Tarpon Springs?
Tarpon Springs Commission candidates voiced their thoughts on whether or not homelessness is a problem in the area.
After Tarpon Springs was named as one of the county's at-risk communities for poverty, addressing the topic of homelessness was inevitable.
A recent incident involving two homeless men and an ax handle left one man hospitalized and the other in jail.
Candidates running for Tarpon Commission, Seat 4 opened up with their views on the issue:
"It is an issue and it's two-fold. I am a Christian and this town is a very religious community. We want to have venues for the homeless and for the poor. But at the same time, we have to figure out ways to encourage helping and advancing them along as well. The laws are the laws and there is order in laws. There is private property and if anybody, homeless or not, is loitering inappropriately, they should be dealt with. It's a very tough balance, but we have to work with the the different charities in town to keep functioning as a city."
"I think it is a problem. I hear people say, 'it's not nearly as bad as Holiday' or 'it's not nearly as bad as Pasco Country.' If I hear that one more time I'm going to choke because we do have a problem here. There are various groups that are trying to do something about it, but I don't think they're organized well. It has to be generally agreed upon that it's an issue because you won't get anywhere until you acknowledge that."
"The homeless issue is a big issue. We have a huge growing homeless population and I think we need to realize that they come to the area for the same reasons that a lot of people are coming to Tarpon, because it's by the water and it's nice. We can't really attack the issue thinking that if we just ship them somewhere that they're going to stay there. One of the things I've been researching is a program called Crisis Intervention Training. Some 1400 police officers from Pinellas County have gone through the course and only three of them are from Tarpon Springs. It basically trains officers and the city on how to work together in crisis situations, particularly with people with mental illness. If we can get the training, we will have the knowledge in dealing with these people and then we can go a more positive route with job training. We need to look at options other than shipping them out or creating harsh laws on them. We need to look at practical options because it's a socioeconomic issues that's a little bit bigger than the city."
"Tarpon Springs was placed on a list of 'one of the five most severely impoverished areas in Pinellas County' in a report issued by Pinellas County. This needs to be addressed yet since the report was presented to the City Commission I have heard nothing about it...this is our most serious issue we face as a city today and it is basically not being addressed."
Do you think there is a homelessness problem in Tarpon Springs? Share your comments in the section below.