New shelter brings old problems to different part of city



Residents on the west side of Tallahassee are fed up with the uncontrollable amount of homeless people loitering in the area since the shelter was relocated there three years ago.

The original location on Macomb and Tennessee streets was demolished in March of 2017. The shelter has since relocated to the West Pensacola Street area on Municipal Way.

Business owners have made complaints about the amount of homeless people in the area, saying it hurts business and doesn’t make customers feel safe. Property managers at surrounding apartment complexes have complained about people from the center defecating, urinating and bathing in private pools, and littering and setting up encampments in the area.

As you approach the shelter, officially known as the Kearney Center, from Dupree Street, the homeless have populated a line of trees. They are using things like pieces of old furniture, shopping carts, and blankets to form homes. Representatives of The Social 2700 apartment complex across the street said people are sleeping under their raised buildings. College students have tried to break their leases because they feel unsafe.

Khamisha Lewis, a resident at The Social 2700, said issues in the neighborhood have reached new heights. “I’ve lived here for years, and I’ve never experienced so many issues until they moved the shelter across the street. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve come home from work with either people at the front gate asking for money or even finding them asleep on my back porch,” said Lewis.

According to Kearney Center director Jacob Reiter, the shelter has made steps to alleviate some problems.

 Volunteers scour the area cleaning up trash and the shelter’s staff post no trespassing signs where the homeless cannot camp.

“The agency has seen results since moving to the center. So far, we’ve transferred 60 people, whom had lived at the shelter for the past five years, into housing. That’s what the program is all about,” said Reiter.

Alexias Brasfeild volunteers at the shelter and is acutely aware of some of its challenges.

“I see all the great things they do for the community, but I do also see where they brought some of the issues the original location experienced here to the new one. There has to be more done so that way everyone can live together in the area and feel safe.”

The issue of the overflow of homeless in the area of West Pensacola Street has not gone unnoticed. Community leaders, staff of the center, and even law enforcement are continuously working together to create ways to make the environment better.