PENSACOLA, Fla. (WKRG) — Pensacola Mayor Grover Robinson doubled down Monday on the city’s goal to move more than 100 homeless people out from underneath the I-110 overpass at Hollice T. Williams Park by mid-January.
“We are absolutely moving forward with the expectation that in January, we will be moving people out,” Robinson said at his weekly press conference Monday. “I think you’d be shocked at how fast people move out if we stopped letting people move in… We can move people out real fast. The question is people moving back in. I think that’s where we say it’s just not the right place.”
City council approved $1.5 million in federal funding this month to go to nonprofits partnered with the city to help with the move. These plans include about 100 new shelter beds, mental health resources and emergency hotel vouchers.
“Now that these organizations are receiving some funding to increase their bedding, we see that flow of people coming out (from under) the bridge to increase more,” said Lawrence Powell, the city’s neighborhoods administrator.
At least one city council member believes the city and homeless need more time before moving away from the camp.
Council President Ann Hill wants to extend the city’s moratorium on evictions at the camp. The current moratorium ends Dec. 23.
Hill says to move the homeless before housing solutions are ready would be unethical.
Robinson said Monday it’s time to move forward. Hollice T. Williams Park is a operated by the city but owned by the Florida Department of Transportation, according to Robinson.
“They don’t need to be there. We’ll certainly remind people if we need to remind them that they need to be out of that area,” he said. “That’s not an area for people to stay in.”
The Pensacola City Council will discuss the possibility of extending the moratorium on Thursday. Its meeting starts at 5:30 p.m.