By Jeremy Morrison
City officials have been working with local non-profit organizations to address the issues surrounding homelessness, issues like services and food and shelter.
While the city has allowed a homeless encampment under the I-110 bypass to remain in place due to the extremely limited amount of shelter space in the area, Escambia County has continued to remove homeless individuals from public areas — a move that the city has been warned could carry potential legal consequences unless there is available shelter space to redirect people toward.
Some in the city have blamed the influx of homeless inside city limits on county administration’s actions regarding the treatment of that population.
During Monday’s presser, Mayor Grover Robinson commented about the lack of collaboration between the city and Escambia County on efforts to address homelessness.
“I think we could have worked better together, and I wish we had, but again, I can’t control what their actions are and where they’re going, I can only focus on what we’re doing,” Robinson said.
The mayor dodged pointing the finger at County Administrator Janice Gilley but said he wasn’t sure why city-county collaboration was stalling out: “I don’t know. We go to them. We’re happy to work, we’re happy to talk at any point.”
Working with its community partners, the city is moving forward with plans — incremental at first, with loftier goals farther down the road — to ease the area’s homeless situation, but Robinson said that eventually the county will need to step up its involvement.
“If we want to make real positive impact, the city and county are gonna have to work together a little bit better on an orchestrated effort,” the mayor said. “And we’ll endeavor to — continue to see what we can do on that discussion.”
A week ago, the Santa Rosa County commissioners tabled a request that would have allowed law enforcement officials to trespass people if they were on county property after hours and were not conducting official county business.