Decision on a homeless shelter in Sarasota, FL, is … no decision

Decision on a homeless shelter in Sarasota, FL, is … no decision

By Jessie Van Berkel

After two hours of impassioned speeches, frustration and accusations from the community over the location of a proposed homeless shelter, city and county commissioners decided Monday on perhaps the least controversial option for the project: more time.

At the end of their joint meeting, the Sarasota county and city commissioners decided that the three homeless shelter sites they were slated to choose from would not work.

But they refused to give up on the idea of an adult homeless shelter that would accept people regardless of whether they were drunk or had taken drugs. Instead, they opted to go back to the drawing board on the shelter’s location, the most controversial piece of the homeless service puzzle.

It has been nearly a year since the community pushed for change on how to address the homeless population, and local governments hired expert Robert Marbut, who came up with a list of recommendations on how to get people off the streets. While many of Marbut’s recommended changes are progressing, the adult shelter proposal has slowed as commissioners cannot find a broadly acceptable site.

On Monday, they asked their staff to keep searching in the county and city. Ideally, they want a location with a building that is less expensive than previous proposals, and is in an industrial area close to the jail and social services.

The two boards agreed to reconvene in September for a status update.

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