Final night of tent city before Jacksonville moves homeless into nearby shelter

This downtown homeless camp that has been crowded with people during the last several weeks will move INDOORS tomorrow. More than 200 people will be offered indoor shelter resources to help get them back on their feet. News4Jax reporter Jenese Harris was the first to cover this homeless camp at the beginning of the year. She is joining us LIVE from the camp at Jefferson and Union Streets which will soon be shut down.

The fences are up surrounding a tent city on Union Street downtown that had grown from 10 people to about 200 in the last three months. On Tuesday, the city of Jacksonville plans to move the homeless living in the camp into a nearby, indoor shelter for the next 30 days.

Last month, 46 people from this camp were placed in extended-living hotels last month, but the number of people in the camp kept growing with more people needing help.

“It grieves me that I have an open bed and someone is living in the tent,” said Paul Stasi of the City Rescue Mission.

“I’m happy for these people that are really trying to help us,” said Steven Bass, who has lived there for two months. “(To) settle down and try to get some (help) with my ribs. I broke a couple of my ribs last week. I’m really happy and ready to make this move.”

As the people move, the city will also offer them social services, the kind of help that Bass said he needs to recover.

As the people move, the city and its partners will also offer them social services, the kind of help that Bass says he needs to recover.

Not everyone wants to move, but those who care for the homeless say living outdoors like this isn’t safe. Some people have already left for another shelter or a different campsite.

Stasi, who has been helping the unhoused for 20 years said he’ll help with Tuesday’s move.

“It’s really sad to see what’s happening because there are so many services throughout the community over the years,” Stasi said.

Robert Kelsey, 61, said he stayed at this camp “since day one” and feels optimistic about the move.

“Anything can happen as long as I walk out on faith. That’s all I need,” Kelsey said.

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