ORLANDO, Fla. - 9 Investigates how employees at the downtown Orlando branch of the Orange County Public Library are able to keep track of more than 200 people who are banned from the building.
We told you about the 200 homeless people who have been trespassed from the Central Boulevard location of the library in just the last few years. Those trespass warnings will all expire by or before 2019.
Investigative reporter Karla Ray took her findings to leaders working on a more permanent fix.
With their bags and belongings in tow, dozens of downtown Orlando’s homeless line up each morning to take refuge inside the Orange County Library.
“They’re not really dangerous. They’re just like every other regular person,” Mencey Sanchez told Eyewitness News.
Sanchez is homeless, and is currently trespassed from OCLS.
He was kicked out in January after violating library rules. Library notes show he was caught with food; he also says he fell asleep.
No one from the library system would go on camera with us to discuss how they’re able to monitor more than 200 people prohibited from visiting the downtown location, including some sexual predators caught exposing themselves inside. A search of library records found people caught with drugs, drunk or even defecating on the property.
OCLS hires an off-duty Orlando police officer to spend time at the location each day. An arrest report we found shows a library worker was able to spot someone previously kicked out simply by "reviewing photos from the library’s trespass database on their computer system."
“It’s a real tough Catch-22,” Central Florida Commission on Homelessness CEO Shelley Lauten said. “I feel so sorry for them, because there are so many customers they have, and their goal is to make sure they’ve got a place where people can come and enjoy the assets this community has provided at the library.”
Lauten told 9 Investigates that OCLS is part of a downtown business council, working toward more permanent solutions for Orlando’s daytime homeless problem. She says daytime drop-in centers, which typically include access to food and computers, would give options for people out on the street.
According to Lauten, there are ongoing conversations with local churches to bring that to a reality for downtown Orlando.
OCLS also used grant money to hire a social worker this year, to help connect people with housing and food assistance as well as career counseling.
Sanchez says those resources are sparse on the street.
“Basically it's like, you have to find something to do,” Sanchez said.
Sanchez’s trespass from the library will expire in January.
A library spokesperson told us via email that the rules are applied fairly to everyone in order to make the facility safe. It’s important to note that no one is allowed in the children’s section without a child, and no one over the age of 18 is allowed in the teen section of the library.
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