PENSACOLA, Fla. (WKRG) — A Pensacola resident is calling for the county to look into its homelessness issue at the Pensacola Library after dealing with the issue for years.

“The library has become a homeless shelter and a food bank,” Daryn Flanders said. “There is a lot of history here that the county is just not addressing.”

Flanders said during the day there are usually 10 to 15 homeless people inside the library at all hours during the day, leaving their property there when they leave the library and then sleeping on the backside of the building at night.

“There’s a guy there now that has been gone for two or three days, but they allow him to keep his stuff out there,” Flanders said. “They’ll go and get their beer and drugs and come back and do whatever they want to do, then come back and sleep. They’ll urinate and defecate in the bushes and wander onto peoples’ property.”

There are several churches, according to Flanders, that attract homeless people to the library because they bring food.

“If you feed them, they will come,” Flanders said. “I can tell you this right now, I’m a nurse and I’ve worked in Birmingham in home health for years, and I’ve worked in some hard areas in Birmingham. These people in this library are eating better than some of my patients. I see them eating three to four meals a day. It’s become too much.”

Flanders said he is not against homeless people, but there needs to be some accountability.

“If I left my stuff on the side of the sidewalk, somebody would take it away,” Flanders said. “The homeless get away with it, all over the city. There are a couple guys that I help that are homeless. They know me by name, and I know them by name. There are some great people that are helping here in town, and some great police officers that are doing great work. The people at the library now are the ones that don’t want help. 90 percent of the homeless people that I know, are making a choice to be out here.”

County administrator Wes Moreno confirmed there are homeless people that sleep outside of the library, but it is not something that is encouraged.

“At night, we don’t have any staff there, also staff does not have the authority to shuffle people along, they are librarians,” Moreno said. “We have also have homeless at a number of county buildings. It is not something that we encourage. We try to discourage it as much as we can, but we have a large homeless population, and it is hard to shuffle them along.”

Inside the library, Moreno said as long as the homeless people follow their policies and rules, they can come and stay during the business hours.

“It is a public space, so anybody can go in there,” Moreno said. “Everybody is treated equally, as long as they follow the policies. As long as they aren’t harassing people or breaking the rules, if they choose to sit there quietly all day, they can sit there quietly all day.”

One day while at the library, Flanders saw some homeless people looking at pornography on the library computers. Moreno said as soon as he got the report, the county’s I.T. department quickly worked to shut it down.

“We already had firewalls up and had protection, it wasn’t like it was free range,” Moreno said. “But we found a few tweaks that we could make to tighten things up even more. We can look at what is being looked up at the library from downtown. So, I feel like we have more than addressed that particular issue.”

Flanders said he has had several run-ins with the library’s security guard that makes him think he is more of a homeless advocate than a security guard. After doing more research on the security guard, court records indicated that he was sentenced for indecent exposure in public in the 90s.

“This security guard has chosen to single me out and point me out to various homeless people in the area,” Flanders said. “He has my house zoomed in and blown up on the computer screen in the library. He takes pictures of me when I’m coming home from the gym or going into my house. He tells homeless people that I am the reason that they don’t get fed there any longer and other things that cast me in a negative light. He does not need to be there.”

Moreno said the security guard does not work for the county but was contracted through Dynamic Security. Moreno said that guard is no longer allowed on the property.

“I don’t know how much is real and how much is imagined, but I know that Daryn has had some run-ins with him,” Moreno said. “With the accusation that has been made today, I’m not going to look into it, but I am going to have him removed. I talked with the library director and Dynamic Security to tell them I don’t care what you do with him, but don’t send him back to the library.”

Overall, Moreno said there is just a homeless issue in Escambia County just like every where else.

“For the most part, everybody minds their ‘p’s and ‘q’s. They know the rules,” Moreno said. “We had one guy washing his underwear in the sink, but we were able to shuffle him. Again, I’ve got homeless people coming in our central complex and sleeping in the parking garage downtown. We’ve got them everywhere, just like everyone else does. Our staff at the library are librarians, they aren’t law enforcement.”

Flanders gave props to Moreno’s handling of the homelessness situation.

“Wes Moreno is an official in Escambia County that will actually do something,” Flanders said. “If you come to him with a problem, he is going to figure out a way to help you.”

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