Homeless encampment at Broward park taken down amid cleanup efforts

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - A project to clean up a park in Downtown Fort Lauderdale is affecting a number of homeless people who call it home.

7News cameras captured cleanup crews at Stranahan Park, located at 10 E. Broward Blvd., near the Broward County Main Public Library, Friday.

It all began when the Florida Department of Health cited the City of Fort Lauderdale for what officials referred to as unsanitary conditions at the park.

City officials decided the homeless encampment has to go. “We ordered our staff this morning to start proceeding to bring the park back into a sanitary condition that involves the removal of individuals that had been camping in the park in violation of the city’s ordinances,” said City Manager Lee Feldman.

Dozens of homeless people live at Stranahan Park on a day-to-day basis. Many of them stood in long lines at the park, Friday afternoon, to receive vouchers valid for hotel rooms.

Homeless people who were at the park when cleanup crews came were able to stash their belongings in labeled recycling bins set aside just for them.

However, many others said they were angry because if they weren’t at the park, they were told, personal items left behind would be taken away.

City officials said unclaimed items are being stored at the Fort Lauderdale Police Department. They urged anyone looking to claim these items to call 954-828-8000.

That, however, offers little consolation for Holly Grant, who said she now has to find somewhere else to call home. “I’ll be 74 next month. I’ve been sleeping on the ground for a year,” she said. “All my blankets and my antique sheets and my antique this and my antique that — this is it? This is what I have left?”

Homeless advocate Jeff Weinberger was also critical of the city’s actions. “I heard that there were rats out here. That’s obviously a concern. That would be considered a health hazard, but the point here is that we’re not providing any solution, OK?” he said.

City officials are also providing bus passes to homeless people at the park. If there are no hotel rooms available, they will set aside beds for them in a shelter.

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