The search for a new tent city location to house the homeless is still underway after residents of western Ocala spoke up against choosing a location in the area.
At the Governor’s West Ocala Neighborhood Revitalization Council Meeting on Tuesday, residents voiced their concerns about the location of the Open Arms Village. Occupants worry the potential property is too close to residential areas and schools.
“They’re not going to be just wandering around breaking into buildings and giving them trouble, that’s not who we’re going to take care of,” said Ocala Mayor Kent Guinn.
Guinn said the project worked in Pinellas County and if Marion County officials find the right place, it can work there, too.
Karla Grimsley, the executive director of Interfaith Emergency Services, said she hopes people will open their minds and remember the homeless are just people and not wild animals.
“If we could have a 50 percent success rate of turning lives around and getting people out of that homeless situation, then that is a success,” Grimsley said.
Residents will be asked to help maintain the land as well. Selecting a location close to a bus stop, thus helping residents to find and keep a job, is crucial when choosing the spot for this project.
For now, a contract has not yet been approved and the search is still on for the ideal site.