OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. — An Osceola County ordinance has been put in place to ban homeless people from camping along the State Road 192 corridor, as part of an effort to make the area more appealing to tourists.
Homeless people who called the area home, though, say they don’t have anywhere else to go.
As the county lacks a homeless shelter, county leaders currently don’t have an easy answer for the people affected by the ban.
Central Florida city and county leaders gathered Thursday to tout the success of their Housing First initiative.
Despite the initiative, numerous homeless camps dot Osceola County.
One couple, who only identified themselves as Rodger and Rachel, said they were living with dozens of other families at the Heritage Park Inn.
The motel was shut down after water service and electricity were shut off, and now they live in one of the camps set up in the woods.
Under the new ordinance, they will now have to move, but the couple doesn’t know what options they have.
County Commissioner Peggy Choudry said she understood why many homeless people decide to live in the camps.
“Is it a surprise?” she asked. “No. I know people had to go somewhere, so there’s going to be camps like that of homeless (people), and it’s because we don’t have a shelter. We don’t have a place for them to go.”
While shutting down the camps along the State Road 192 corridor may hide the problem from view, Choudry said it will remain, and something needs to be done to assist those who have been displaced.
“We have gaps,” Choudry said. “Just like the Central Florida homeless, there’s gaps everywhere when you’re coming up with this plan, so we need to start reaching the gaps.”
Cox Media Group