The Salvation Army and the Sarasota Police Department are teaming up to provide an area for the city’s homeless to congregate while waiting for food or shelter.
Instead of camping throughout the day on the streets of the Rosemary District, clients will have a shelter with ceiling fans in the "front porch" of the Center of Hope. Extra patrols from the police department will monitor the area to root out any drug dealing and keep the peace, said Salvation Army Development Director Glenda Leonard.
"It's just some southern hospitality," Leonard said.
The front porch, announced at a joint press conference between the Sarasota police and Salvation Army this morning, is located at the corner of Ninth Street and Central Avenue. The area is designed to make basic services like water and bathrooms available during the day, according to Ethan Frizzell, area commander for Sarasota’s Salvation Army.
It will also provide people cover from the sun or rain, allowing them to congregate under a roof in a central location rather than sitting out on sidewalks in the Rosemary District, Frizzell said.
The initiative came about after Frizzell walked around and talked to people in the area, asking them about their needs. He said he realized a simple shelter area would be beneficial for many people.
“Visiting with the folks outside, we said, ‘How could we bring them inside and provide basic services?’” Frizzell said. “Our goal is hospitality, and I was not feeling very hospitable if someone was sitting out there with their feet in the gutter."
Frizzell said police officers, patrolling throughout the day and evening, would be enforcing rules created and agreed upon by the people using the area.
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