Sunday, January 3, 2016

Homeless Fenced Off for 2016

What follows is a survey of some of the commonly used spaces by homeless people downtown. For a long time, the area in the vicinity of Fort Lauderdale City Hall and Broward Central Terminal were occupied by dozens of homeless people, who have very few places to spend their days and even fewer to spend their nights; for many, the parking lots and sidewalks North of Broward Boulevard are all they have.

With the development of "All Aboard Florida" just getting started, virtually every space the homeless people inhabited that was not a piece of sidewalk North of Broward has been roped off in the last few months.

The overhang entrance of the disused building on the NW corner of Andrews & NE 1st Street, directly across the street from City Hall.

A few months ago this empty, disused parking lot on the SW corner of Andrews & NE 1st Street was re-paved, re-planted, and eventually, fenced off. 

The block between City Hall & Broward Central Terminal is mostly parking lot and the old building pictured earlier. Prior to a year or two ago, they were disused and one of the larger spaces homeless people occupied in the area. Fences have gradually chipped away at public access until finally in the last month or so there is nothing left. This was the last space left at NE 1st & Brickell Ave and it now carries a trendy new logo for the upcoming development effort.

On the NE corner of the same block, at NE 2nd St & Andrews Ave, this public parking space has been removed entirely to discourage the homeless people who have slept here over the years. The parking meters have been removed and a fence encloses the lot.
Immediately North is the former "One Stop Shop." The City owns the whole property and claims they are in the process of selling it for redevelopment. Some people want it turned into a new park. It is perhaps one of the only spaces frequented by homeless people in the immediate downtown area that hasn't been fully fenced off.

 On the NW side of the One Stop Shop is "The Tree." Although it hasn't been fenced off, homeless outreach services provided in coordination with the City of Fort Lauderdale at this location were cut over the summer and only a few homeless people spend much time here anymore. So to re-state this, the City demanded that homeless services stop over 6 months ago and absolutely nothing has changed here whatsoever.

This leads us back to the area of Stranahan Park. The Main Library is now a very rare thing in downtown; a public space, that is not a sidewalk, that homeless people are allowed access to during the day. Frequent police patrols targeting the homeless do not make this very friendly. Riverwalk is also accessible, yet there is also private security watching over people in that space as well.
On an average day, only a handful of homeless people (or absolutely anyone, really) can be seen using Stranahan Park. It remains a ghost park most of the year.

In many times over the last few years, the amount of people who spend the day on the sidewalk in front of Stranahan Park has been low. Since the fences went up North of Broward, the amout of people here on the daily has increased a bit. There are now a couple dozen people there every day.

During this time no other spaces have been created as an alternative for the chronically homeless, and the people leaving jail in downtown who have no place to go.

Although the County has increased its attempts to house veterans and the very ill in downtown, there are no proposals at the County or City level to deal with the fact that most homeless now only have sidewalks to sit on all day.   

This trend is only likely to continue with the development of the train station, the designed purpose of which is to turn Fort Lauderdale's skid row into a gentrified cityscape for Broward's upper class.