PENSACOLA, Fla. (WKRG) — The City of Pensacola on Monday notified dozens of homeless campers living under the I-110 overpass they will have to leave before the end of January.
This notice comes after a moratorium on evictions at the camp expired Dec. 23, leaving many at the homeless camp wondering what’s next.
“Oh my God. I’m frightened,” said Melissa Mason-Shahid, who has lived at the homeless camp since July. “Where am I going to go?”
Pensacola Mayor Grover Robinson announced the deadline for the homeless to vacate Hollice T. Williams Park Monday morning. The park is government-owned property leased by the City of Pensacola.
Homeless individuals living at the camp will have until Jan. 31 at 5 p.m. to collect their belongings and leave the park.
The park will be cleaned up before construction begins on a new city skatepark.
“During this time, the city will be working with local organizations to connect homeless individuals with shelter and other resources,” Robinson said.
The Pensacola City Council has allocated more than $2 million to nonprofit organizations to address homelessness. City staff has been working with local homeless nonprofits for the past year to help pair those at the encampment with available resources and will continue doing so between Monday and Jan. 31, a city spokeswoman said.
Robinson said anyone who refuses to leave the camp after the Jan. 31 deadline will be trespassing.
“What will happen will happen at that point,” Robinson said. “People will not be staying there.”
Residents who live near the homeless camp say it’s been a problem. They want the site cleaned up.
“There was an increase in crime. Neighbors were being harassed,” said Mary Williams, a neighborhood advocate. “We do not have any confidence that — just by providing many of the residents of the camp a notice to vacate — will do the trick.”
Mason-Shahid received her notice on Monday. The notice did not say where the homeless could go to get help or shelter.
“I have a service animal — a little 4.5 pound Chihuahua that I’ve had for almost 11 years, and I’m scared to death,” she said. “I don’t know if we’re going to be ok or if she going to make it through.”
The city says it is working with organizations to get as many of the homeless who want help into shelters.
But uncertainty, for now, is causing restlessness in the homeless community.
Mason-Shahid said she does not know where she’ll go once the camp closes.
“If there’s anyone out there who can help, please help,” she said. “We desperately need it.”