County commissioners voted today not to continue looking for a location for a Come As You Are shelter.
The city of Sarasota voted July 21 that city staff was not going to continue to look for a shelter site within city limits.
“The action by the city is most unfortunate and quite surprising,” said Commissioner Joseph Barbetta.
Chairman Charles Hines said 70 to 85% of the chronically-homeless population stays within city limits, so to continue without a partnership with the city would be difficult.
The partnership between the city and county governments over the homeless shelter was a source of tension and frustration for the the two bodies. In early July, the county commission expressed its irritation with the city for a lack of communication and requested, via letter, for solid answers.
However, Hines, along with the other commissioners said that the county continuing to search for a site for a CAYA in unincorporated land would not be effective.
“If the city is not willing to do it, we won’t be successful,” Commissioner Christine Robinson said. “I’m not willing to spend money on things we know aren’t going to be effective.”
The commission agreed to follow the other principles outlined in Dr. Robert Marbut’s recommendation, such as county-wide unified ordinances, and if the city returned to the partnership it would be willing to consider a CAYA shelter again.
“I am happy to hear… the commission is not turning away from the homeless issue,” said Commissioner Carolyn Mason. “As a community, we can’t bury our heads in the sand. The homeless population needs us.”
Robinson moved to suspend the county’s search for a CAYA shelter location until city chooses to participate again and focus on other initiatives. The motion passed unanimously.
“This is not a motion I make happily,” Robinson said. “We need to be ready when the city has to come back to the table. I think they will be forced to… we need to be ready to move forward with the discussion.”