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County Commission Meeting Prompts Homelessness Discussion

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The Alachua County Commission was set to discuss three issues Tuesday, one of which was about the Gainesville Correctional Institution becoming a homeless center.

No decisions were made involving the institute, but the topic sparked a conversation regarding homelessness in Gainesville.

Alachua County Commissioner Mike Byerly said that if the institution conversion is successful, it will prompt motivation to address what he believes are the two current problems with homelessness in the area.

“One of these is the illegal tent cities where things happen that shouldn’t happen,” Byerly said. “It is not just being hard on the homeless population. It’s probably not the best circumstance for them either.”

Byerly also wants to address the issue of the homeless population downtown.

“I don’t want to continue to have what we have there [downtown],” he said. “Piles of people’s belongings in garbage bags just stringing around the plaza forever. This is our community center and it very much feels that one group has co-opted [it] for their physical use.”

Byerly said he believes the Gainesville Correctional Institution conversion would be a good step toward improving homelessness in the county.

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