• Orlando commissioner suggests church be responsible for security when feeding homeless

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    ORLANDO, Fla. - A homeless man is accused of raping a woman in downtown Orlando, and  part of the blame for the homeless problem is focusing on churches that give meals to the homeless.

    Orlando City Commissioner Patty Sheehan has suggested that churches be required to pay for security during those mealtimes.

    People who live in the Lake Eola historic district have become more concerned about the homeless who wander into their neighborhoods.

    “We have people here who have small children,” said resident Tim Huskins.

    Huskins believes bringing the homeless together for free food but no shelter puts residents at risk.

    “Thank the churches for doing this, but we also have all of us who live here,” he said. “We’ve worked hard to redevelop the area, and now it is thriving. If you start with crime and problems, you’ll have families now wanting to leave here, and that’s when it starts to decline. That would be horrible.”

    One resident, who was not identified, said a homeless man walked into her home two years ago.

    At a neighborhood meeting Thursday night, Sheehan suggested churches be required to pay for off-duty police officers during the meals.

    But some people said they think that should be the city's responsibility.

    “They’re already helping. They’re already doing the right thing. The city should step up and take responsibility and do the right thing,” said resident Erica Wohlstadter.

    The president of the Commission on Homelessness said his goal is to get chronically homeless into homes so free meals will no longer be necessary.

    Sheehan was not available to answer questions about her suggestion on Friday.

    The city said since the attack, a lot of ideas have been discussed but there are no official proposals yet.

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