Sarasota News Leader

01/31/2014

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It has been a year since the city and county commissioners sat down to talk about home- lessness and vagrancy in downtown Sarasota. Expert Robert Marbut signed a consultant's contract offered by the local governments and produced a report in that period of time. A number of meetings have been held. And, just like last year, the annual homeless cen- sus is being tallied. But if you are homeless, the difference between 2013 and 2014 is zilch. The foot-dragging has been breathtaking. At the joint City-County commissions meeting on Feb. 5, 2013, then-County Chairwoman Carolyn Mason foreshadowed the next 12 months. The city's new manager, Tom Barwin, was pressing for action. "It didn't get like this overnight, Mr. Barwin," said Mason. "And we can't fix it overnight." 358 NIGHTS LATER The only different feature on the landscape is Valerie Guillory, who came to town in a Winnebago, cut a deal with the owner of prop- erty on the north side of the railroad track at 10th Street in Sarasota and said she was opening a tent city for the homeless. Residents of the Gillespie Park neighbor- hood went into a panic, which they quickly Valerie Guillory's 'Sanctuary' at 10th Street and U.S. 41 in Sarasota may be the city's fastest-growing neighborhood. Its residents on Jan. 28 were counted during the national homeless census initiative. Photo by Stan Zimmerman MANY QUESTIONS STILL NEED TO BE ANSWERED AS THE CITY AND COUNTY GOVERNMENTS PURSUE SOLUTIONS FOR HELPING THE HOMELESS ANALYSIS: THE RUSH FOR SHELTER By Stan Zimmerman City Editor

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