City Commission, residents discuss homeless problem

Jacksonville Beach mayor hopes to find solution to growing problem

JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. - Jacksonville Beach residents packed inside City Hall Wednesday night to discuss what residents are calling a growing problem: The homeless population.

Recently elected mayor Charlie Latham has called people from all walks of life to sit down together and find a solution to the homeless problem at the beach.

Latham said many people reached out to him about a problem with the homeless at the beach during his campaign.

"Everything's on the table, looking forward to hearing from everybody today and then getting back to the table and looking at what the options might be," said Latham.

"They come, they harass people, urinate on sidewalks, use foul language, scare tourists," said one resident who spoke out at Wednesday's meeting.

The owner at the Campeche Bay Restaurant wants to see change too. Owner Vince McGuire told Channel 4 there is an ongoing problem and he doesn't know how to regulate it.

"They're out there and you can't really do too much except move them along," said McGuire. "They come in here, we know pretty much who they are. We just stay right on them, ask them; what are you doing? Where are you going?"

Some recommendations at Wednesday's meeting were to arrest more homeless who are breaking laws. Some people suggested putting together an overnight shelter for the homeless may help the problem.

"There are people not allowed to mission house and people who don't want to come," said Mission House's Lori Anderson. "Those are the folks that tend to cause problems and that's who we're trying to help out here."

The next step will happen in the Jacksonville Beach City Council, when they sit down to develop legislation on how to deal with the homeless problem.

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