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That Homeless Camp Behind the Public Library: A Palm Coast Problem Requiring Immediate Action

| February 26, 2019

Scenes from the homeless camp behind the library, as captured by Jack Howell.

Scenes from the homeless camp behind the library, as captured by Jack Howell.

By Jack D. Howell

Last Friday, I took a walk into the homeless encampment behind the Flagler County Public Library’s main branch on Palm Coast Parkway and Belle Terre. I was not at all shocked at the sights, squalor, and stench of this horrible blight affecting our beautiful city. It is what I expected.  As a former law enforcement officer, I have seen much worse. However, my observation and discussion with the residents in the camp were well worth my time and effort–a true learning experience.


The fact is that we can no longer ignore the consequences of dealing with the homelessness within our community.  While there are several homeless encampments throughout the city, the camp at the library is somewhat unique. This camp is located on Flagler County property, but the residents are living in Palm Coast. Jointly, the Flagler County Commission and the Palm Coast City Council must immediately take actions to resolve this problem before it gets entirely out of control.

The question is how do we as a government handle this?

In my opinion, there are no easy solutions. To begin with, we must confront the myriad of issues that the homeless individuals and homeless families are dealing with.  The squalor that they are living in is a public health hazard.  Hygiene, at all levels, is lacking. The homeless are living surrounded by human waste and garbage. They are living within the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs that motivate human behavior. According to Maslow, there are five different kinds of human needs, beginning with the most basic: survival. Physiological needs, such as food and shelter, are followed by requirements related to safety.  The homeless are living in survival mode. It is important to note that some homeless are episodic, some transitional, some chronic.

As our government deals with this issue, we must remember that the homeless have legal rights afforded them by the Constitution.  Briefly, the First Amendment may exempt persons experiencing homelessness from anti-loitering, anti-begging, and anti-food sharing laws. The Fourth Amendment may entitle people experiencing homelessness to be free from the confiscation and destruction of personal property stored in public spaces. The Eighth Amendment, which prohibits cruel and unusual punishment, may entitle persons experiencing homelessness to be free from anti-sleeping, anti-sitting or encampment laws.  The Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause may authorize individuals experiencing homelessness to be free from laws prohibiting them from living in cars and those that prohibit loitering.

So where do we go from here?  To address this problem will take a team effort that should include government, religious organizations, media, schools and charities, as a start.  To borrow a phrase from Hillary Clinton, “It Takes a Village.”   There will be a need for adequate housing, medical services that include mental health and substance abuse programs,  education focused on job skills, job placement, and child support and assistance: this is but the tip of the iceberg.

As a start, we must get an ad-hoc committee together as quickly as possible to take ownership and control. While merely finding ways to arrest and confine the homeless to jail is in some eyes a solution, it is not the right one.

Jack D. Howell was elected to the Palm Coast City Council last November. He is the executive director of Teens-In-Flight, the non-profit, and a retired Marine.


70 Responses for “That Homeless Camp Behind the Public Library: A Palm Coast Problem Requiring Immediate Action”

  1. Again says:

    Animals!!!! Get em out!

  2. Kendall says:

    Mr Howell, I’d like to make a suggestion that could make an immediate difference. Can some kind of stationary trash receptacles be placed near the road there so the people occupying the space have someplace to put their garbage? Once that is done this stop can be added to the Waste Pro route. This should help alleviate some of the blight.

    I would also suggest port a johns to avoid the uncontained human waste you describe.

    Are there costs to these things? Yes. Are there costs to doing nothing? Indeed.

    I appreciate you taking this on.

  3. thomas says:

    Send them by bus to Washington D.C. and encamp them in the Federal Triangle.

  4. palmcoaster says:

    Thank You Councilman Jack Howell like I know you are for us “the people” and the homeless are also people.
    I really hope you can spearhead (not meant to kill anyone with bow and arrows) the attention to this problem with the goal of solving it only if at least “partially to start”. I believe that this county and or largest city owning public lands off Rte 1 should build a campsite in the city squirts where they can have bathrooms and showers can pitch their tents and a large pavilion all with solar roof for free energy to charge phones (like the solar islands in Town Center around the lake that no one was using them that day) and also provide solar A/C. Lets get FPL to donate the solar panels. We have hundreds of volunteers helping the homeless with the Sheltering Tree, Pastor Silano and others disseminated allover the county including the Bike man that collects and repairs bicycles for them and resident Denise Calderwood as well volunteering. Then all those services can be given at that campsite that should be designed on a way that our law enforcement can patrol it in daily rounds as they do the rest of the county. Just a large campsite how expensive that could be?They camp among us anyway now…in the most deplorable conditions. Just a vision.

  5. Trish says:

    This people for the most part are able to work
    They stand in the corner all day holding signs
    Right now h & r block are paying people to hold signs. Why don’t they go get paid to do it.
    I know someone hiding out there. Who doesn’t work because he feet hurt. But apparently only when he works. Because not when he wanders all over town,rides his bike or stands for 8 hours on the corner panhandling. While avoiding paying child support.
    There’s different types of garbage back there.

  6. Steve says:

    First make them clean up the mess. Thats our property, the Citizens who live here in houses and pay taxes. The least They could have done is keep it somewhat clean. Why not arrest . They are living on public property unlawfully.Just Declare an Emergency like the Clown in DC.

  7. Steve says:

    One more point. If you all can shut down a LEO station in BUNNELL for being a health hazard then this should not be a problem. Its a hazard to us all at many levels. Get rid of it

  8. Stretchem says:

    Any city or county that sponsors, promotes and/or funds an animal humane society should be required by law to match similar or greater services to the humans. It doesn’t matter if the human is stupid, stinks, nasty, mean, whatever. Humans are not dogs.

  9. tulip says:

    A lot of those people don’t want “help” , just money for food, shelter, booze, drugs and cigarettes. Where does one find them housing and who would take care of it? Substance abuse program is probably useless to most of them and a lot of them don’t want to work. Isn’t there some land by the jail that they could use to live on and have their tents? If so, why not make it designated property for them and that way they could be made to leave where they are now. There maybe some people that are temporarily down on their luck and if those could be weeded out from the rest, perhaps churches, schools and charity organizations could help those that really want to get back of their feet.

    It’s a terribly sad complex situation with no easy solution. If people would stop bringing them things, they might move on.They are human beings and I know it sounds heartless, but sometimes people have to be tough.

    If I’m not mistaken, doesn’t Volusia county have a designated place where the homeless can live, and other basic essentials, which would mean they could legally make the homeless people leave where they are entrenched because there is a designated place or places available to them? I think Flagler County should talk to the officials in Volusia for some ideas that could help solve our problem.

  10. Old Guy says:

    While the long term solution to homelessness in our community may be complicated, I suggest a simple remedy for the camp behind the library. Clear out all of the underbrush and many of the pine trees. Once the camp is no longer hidden from normal view the residents will move away on their own. The Library and adjacent neighborhood should be safe areas for our children.

  11. CONSTNCE JACKSON says:

    I fully am for paying a small fee in order to help. Maybe 5-10 dollars, even as a renter. Anything to help. I work very hard and my husband has to work otr trucking to make sure we are not home less. I am not rich and some weeks I only have enough for gas, but no one deserves this, not today. Don’t get it wrong, nothing is for free so tone, service to the community in community service and agree to mental health screening and a doctor visit and budgeting class should be required. But I believe a person who has been at the bottom would put the work for some good honest help. Thank you for letting me speak.

  12. Lin says:

    Mr. Howell
    Missing from your article is the effect the homeless have on the citizens of Palm Coast and Flagler County and how it is affecting our quality of life with the biohazards and safety issues trying to use our library and some local businesses, the spillover to the homes nearby. We want to help those that are in need. This encampment is indeed a complicated problem. One solution is not suitable for all.

    The hierarchy of needs pyramid (Psychology Today) shows the basic physical needs on the bottom with ego and other self-actualization on the top. It is easy to give food and clothing but that seems to only satisfy needs very temporarily and without appealing to the top of the pyramid the people do not seem to get better. I know because of mental illness, drug abuse and/or PTSD, it is a complicated problem to solve.

    Your noting the “may entitle” clauses in the Constitution are just attempts to mold the venerable document to “entitle” some of us at the expense of others. We cannot just throw money at the problem and allow laws to be trampled. This is our Library too. Let’s figure out how to help the homeless and not give up our rights in the process. I’m afraid to take my grandchildren there right now. This is County property.

  13. Denise Calderwood says:

    Yes it does take a village and several volunteers have helped the citizens of Palm Coast and Flagler County who have lived behind the library and in other undisclosed areas for a long time now and where has government been…? Just talking with about Homelessness on task forces while we have been driving them to take showers and wash their clothes twice a week in Bunnell and when it is cold the church opens it’s doors so they can get a hot meal, good sleep and a hot breakfast to only be returned back to the woods… Again and Again. Volunteers also stepped up to provide volunteer case management and have permanantly placed a few of the residents in housing but at the same time we allow the Volusia Flagler Commission on Homeless give all the government money away to Volusia County to the tune of 1.4 million and we don’t complain. We have provided numerous suggestions to only get called enablers by our elected officials while they are too busy buying properties and subsidizing private business owners when our county social service budget has not grown to address the basic minimums let alone address the homeless…. and no one notices and then we build vacation rentals instead of transitional housing for those in need. Palm Coast has some CBDG dollars and the County has Sadowski monies and our not for profit, Family Matters of Flagler has $700,000 to add to the solution but we can’t get any one to help us out so we could help them… So let’s put that to use instead of putting it into sidewalks ….and consultants or quoting bureaucratic red tape. I offered to volunteer and was told county staff will be handling the issue at the staff level and residents can’t attend so please help us break through the Hardline Colonel!

  14. Fredrick says:

    Except for mentioning “She who should not be named” excellent article Jack. And thank you FlaglerLive for publishing it. There is no easy answer. It will take the entire community to help those who want help.Some will take the help, some will just move on…. but to turn a blind eye to the situation the issue will continue to grow and get worse.

  15. Tameka McDowell says:

    Ad-hoc committee…let’s initiate. I’m in.

  16. NortonSmitty says:

    Welcome to the richest country in the World.

  17. Lorri says:

    Wow, this is so sad. We need to build homes (Tiny Homes) for the HOMELESS. As a community we must ALL come together and HELP with FOOD, HOMES, MEDICAL and whatever else. So we do we go from here? What is going to be done about the HOMELESS? I’m here to help.

  18. Ken says:

    First of all you cannot help someone who doesnt want to help themselves. I see these people sitting at the corner asking for money and then you see there group sitting near by drinking beer or liquor. A lot of these people could probably work, they just choose to live this way.

  19. New Palm Coaster says:

    Multi-faceted issue, often including mental health issues and substance abuse. The first to be addressed (Maslow’s Heirarchy) is housing, then other issues. Flagler County needs a psychiatrist, not just for the homeless! A good place to start….some research…https://www.wbur.org/hereandnow/2019/02/20/bergen-county-new-jersey-homelessness

  20. Jack Clinton says:

    Wait till this news gets out in the homeless population. Believe me, they know rather quickly which communities welcome them with open arms. Jack, you should goto Jacksonville and see where it goes from here.

  21. Greg says:

    I’m more concerned about the citizens visiting the library. Specifically young kids and teens. Who wants to let there teen go to the library while there is a gaggle of meth heads and people shooting up in the wood 50 feet away. It’s a joke. When something happens I hope the city and county get sued into oblivion.

  22. ConstantlyAmazed says:

    So there it is the “QUINTESSENTIAL CATCH 22” .

  23. Resident of Palm Coast says:

    Visit the library, read books, solve puzzles then people-watch. The folks living nearby have an organized hierarchy of pandhandling positions. That unlicensed panhandling business is clearly feeding their biggest challenge: substance abuse. Palm Coast must do something to stop this business near these public facilities. It’s giving the people a motivation to stay put. Think strategically, Palm Coast! Put your best creative juices into solving the dilemma of panhandling. How can we make it hard for them to continue this endeavor?

    It’s a dysfunctional world they live it, but it keeps working for them. You might want social workers to come save the day, but if they have a well-organized plan of approach toward monetizing the screams of their addictions, no one can offer anything–housing, counseling, education, work opportunities–which would get them off the streets.

    Target the panhandling.

    Some cities launched information campaigns for citizens to recognize what they’re doing when giving panhandlers money. They offer brochures to hand the panhandlers. Maybe coordinate with local residential substance abuse nonprofits to solicit donations via volunteers on the same street corners occupied by the afflicted homeless residents. They can strike up conversations with them while teaching the public that a couple of bucks or some loose pocket change going directly to the homeless isn’t helping them–give it to the nonprofits who work toward a better future for them.

    Carefully consider what types of legal loopholes are available to stop panhandling, either for motorists or for the people on the corners.

  24. Ben Hogarth says:

    I’ve always found it shameful to see humans treat the homeless as unworthy of existence. I find it even more disturbing that my opinion isn’t a clear majority one. Furthermore, so many of the homeless around the country are former veterans. I know, because I’ve spoken to so many over the years. Some of their stories are pretty incredible, but always a hidden sadness and some form of mental trauma or illness that has been untreated. The same people who don’t want universal healthcare, (which would provide the proper medications for these lost souls), are also the same people who demand that someone do something. It’s asinine. And worse yet, they claim to support soldiers and veterans, but turn their backs to those who sacrificed so much that now they can’t fins their way in normal society. Shame on each one of you who are guilty of this.

    But Jack is right on this issue… it takes a lot of community willpower to change this. But in witnessing the majority opinion in Flagler over the years, I’m doubtful you will find as much humanity and compassion from the boomers as you will find from older and younger generations. And it’s the boomers who all are relying on in power right now.

  25. Jolene R Dehart says:

    Very sad. The American dream.

  26. Palm Coaster says:

    Yes, they may move away..but just to another place.
    There are many on the Hammock also.

    I am confused also. They are able and willing to hold a sign but too lazy to use a leaf blower or throw down sod for example. Plenty of illegals do that here

  27. oldtimer says:

    I know a few of the “homeless” too.In the last couple of years some of them have upgraded their bikes , got new cell phones and one even has a trailer for his dog! Quite a few of these people choose to live this way because they dont have to live by society’s rules

  28. Michael Cocchiola says:

    Jack’s entirely correct. This is a community issue and can only be addressed as a community. The homeless have the same Constitutional rights as so-called taxpayers. If a store-sponsored “sign twirler” can legitimately stand on a public sidewalk then so can a homeless person with a sign. And while some citizens may be offended by unsanitary homeless encampments, others may similarly be offended by a house with confederate flag-themed curtains. Yet all offenders have equal rights.

    So it will take a community to find solutions. We all want a clean well-ordered community. And I’m pretty sure most (with some exceptions above) want to help feed, clothe and shelter the homeless. Maybe even get them back on their feet. So I fully agree with Jack. Let’s put together an ad hoc committee to assess what other communities are doing and draw from their experiences and expertise. There are answers out there short of abusing individual rights.

  29. Edith Campins says:

    Shame on you commenters who are more concerned with the effect of the homeless on yourselves and your
    standard of living.
    Face up to the facts:
    1. Not all the homeless are drug addicts. If they don’t have money to buy food or shelter how would they have money for drugs?
    2. There are children back there, do you expect them to get jobs?
    3. Some of these families were living paycheck to paycheck, all it took was for them to lose job to find themselves homeless.
    4. Those of you that claim these people can get jobs, how manyof them do you actually know personally or are you just mouthing off meaningless rhetoric?
    5. Would you hire someone who is dressed in dirty clothes and smells bad? Where do you think these job applicants can wash their clothes and bathe themselves? Can they come to your house?
    And yes, I speak from experience, having helped some of the homeless with food, clothing money.
    6. When they are ill, where do you think they can get help?
    Stop spewing hate and instead do something to help solve the problem because it is not going away.
    As for Greg’s comment, I am a libraty volunteer, I am there every week and I have yet to see the “gaggle of meth heads” doing drugs in all the years I have been going there. And Ken , how many of these people” have you ever actually talked to? They’ve told you they choose to live this way?
    And some of you call yourselves “christians”.
    Mr. Howell, if you need people to come together to try and find solutions, please count me in.

  30. Hmmm says:

    Building camps in secluded areas wont work. They want to be among lots of people for panhandling and have the convenience of the stores. They are human, but spending money on any level is absurd. People say, they’re not dogs. And you’re right. Dogs cant do for themselves quite like people can. As i see people hand money over at a stop light, then see the same recipient on the sheriff website arrested for drugs!!

  31. Jack Howell says:

    I really appreciate the comments on this issue. There are several good suggestions that I will take into account. I will keep you posted as we move to resolve or abate this issue.

  32. atilla says:

    I agree with most of these post. Most of these people don’t want to work. There are a lot companies looking to hire, I see these people outside stores and gas stations scratching lottery tickets and working their smart phones. And if any council person suggest building a shelter for them remember the saying if you build it they will come. How many of these people are citizens of Palm Coast or even Flagler County. I’ll bet the number is Zero.

  33. Me says:

    If the county knew about this situation for 2 yrs, what took them so long to come up with a solution? Two years and our elected officials still haven’t resolved it? Sounds like someone should be held accountable for waiting this long. Seems as though the county and city felt out of sight out of mind, as you can see it only allowed the situation to get worse over 2 yrs.

  34. PalmCoaster says:

    Can we all take up a collection for a bus ticket to Tampa/Miami where they have services for the homeless?

  35. capt says:

    Pack them up and move them. Let them reside in the woods right behind the county court house,. And while your at it, move those on AIA across from International Trade Assoc. Nothing but drugs running wild there.

  36. itisthe says:

    I work at a small business near there. i see and talk with several of these people daily. they brag to me constantly how they make more money than me begging for it. and they prove it by pulling out a large roll of money to show me. i then see them high and drunk mid day on. so i have zero bad feelings for them. if make more money than me and i can afford housing they can too. any money from the city state or country given to “help” people like the ones i come in contact with daily is wrong.. yes i too had a time in my life in which i didnt work and drank and partied all day….it was called spring break. at no time was i offered assistance to keep my partying going. these people deserve no help whatsoever. they deserve to be incarcerated and should pay for all clean up of their camps. obviously not all homeless fit the description i have given. but the description i give is 100% true and accurate.

  37. Concerned Resident says:

    Where’s code enforcement when you need them now!!!!! God forbid I leave my newspaper on my driveway longer than an hour it’s delivered. Or even if my grass is an 1/8 of an inch taller than expected!! Same rules should apply to everyone!!

  38. Mary Fusco says:

    I guess since I am 72, I am considered a “boomer” and I have plenty of compassion, especially for our veterans since every man in my family, starting with my father is a veteran. You can provide all the universal healthcare you want BUT it is only effective if a person wants the help. What I have NO compassion for are those who refuse to help themselves. Yes, there are a lot of people homeless through no fault of their own, just crappy circumstances. We now live in a society where we create a Go Fund Me Account rather than do something to help ourselves. Begging is easier. We live in a society that has no pride.

    As for that disgusting camp behind the library. If you were to take these people and place them in temporary housing, they would be living the same. It is a lifestyle. Don’t kid yourself. As for the panhandlers and homeless. I think we are talking apples and oranges. There are professional panhandlers who live in homes, have cars but choose to beg because it is more lucrative than going to a 9-5 job like the rest of us fools.

    I seem to remember a few years ago in Daytona Beach when the homeless were defecating and littering the sidewalks in front of businesses. The police offered them temporary housing but a large percentage of them refused and had to be hauled away. I also remember that they had restrooms in a park and they were destroyed. The plumbing literally torn out. They had to be closed.

    What I would support and contribute to is seeing all these men and women rounded up, tested for drugs, offered assistance such as a temporary place to live, medical care, job placement assistance and put a time limit on it. Those who refuse assistance should be arrested if caught loitering again. Let’s face it, we all have consequences to our actions and the homeless are no different. They can’t make a mess like that camp in someone’s backyard.

    BTW, I would also suggest that any temporary housing be pet friendly because a lot of the homeless will not leave the streets if they have to give up their pets.

  39. Maggie says:

    Bravo, Ben Hogarth! I find the lack of humanity in some of these comments to be, by turns, selfish, out-of-touch, unrealistic and cruel to other human beings. Most of you who are guilty of such meanness are one job-loss or injury away from joining them. You think you’re immune? You aren’t, if you have no savings, if you can barely pay your bills now and if you are not truly job-secure or already retired. Those boomers Ben refers to are among the worst offenders, at least on these forums (I don’t see it as much in real life, so on top of that, we probably have trolls posting at least some of the hate here).

    So disgusting and shameful, regardless of the reasons. These people are destitute and most of them, given a realistic choice, would choose not to beg in the streets. But too many people in this country have completely lost their ability to be compassionate. And I can’t even be sad about that anymore, it just makes me sick.

  40. ASF says:

    This is a multi-level problem and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. But one thing has become increasingly clear over the years and that is that there is criminal activity that occurs as a result of this encampment. Regular patrols of police should be instituted in this hotbed area but they should also be conducted randomly. This might cut down on some of the more crime related aspects that pose a danger not only to the people in the encampment but the community at large,

  41. T. Webb says:

    I agree that we need to help the homeless, but everything I have seen makes it appear that these people will continue to live behind the library as long as others keep bringing them food and clothing.That must stop. They are able to ride bicycles which would lead me to believe they are not disabled. They can beg for money just about everywhere in Palm Coast and then get back to the Flagler County Public Library to trash up the property.Who are the people that are transporting them there in cars and vans? It’s disgraceful. I don’t want to go to the library any longer because they loiter around the parking lot and beg for money. I don’t know what the solution is to help these people but something needs to be done ASAP.

  42. flaglerflyer says:

    The paradox of the homeless is the more you do to alleviate the problem the worse it gets.

  43. Hammock Bear says:

    The homeless are People. Some are Veterans and some became Homeless by choice and others lost their homes. They need our help. We helped one homeless man to get his life back. He is a Veteran and we got him back into the VA system. He now lives in VA assisted housing in a small apt. He has had the help he needs and deserves from the VA. One person or one family at a time. Together, We Can. For the comments that are unkind on this topic, a reminder that one could be related to you. Treat others the way you would want them to treat you.

  44. Percy's mother says:

    I don’t see any of you bleeding hearts stepping up to the plate to take any of these people into your homes . . . it is a community issue, you know.

    Have any of you people asked a homeless person to your dinner table?

    Talk is so easy.

  45. Mark says:

    Make it a county campground and charge them rent. Build a latrine and add some dumpsters! Problem solved. Let’s lock and load!

  46. Dave says:

    What’s the problem if someone doesnt want to work? If they choose to be homeless? Not everyone is gonna lead the same life. They obviously want our help to live so let’s give it to them.

  47. Mary Fusco says:

    @ Maggie. I am a boomer. I worked from the time I was 16 until I was 65, Sometimes you have to do crazy things like that in order to survive. My first question to you would be what exactly have you done to help the homeless in Flagler County? Do you allow any tents in your backyard? I agree that some of these people are destitute through no fault of their own. For others, it is a lifestyle choice that they are happy with. If they get a couple of dollars for cigarettes and booze, life is good. I am on a fixed income and not rich by any stretch of the imagination but I regularly give to food banks, any organization that asks and most importantly to the humane society. I have bought food and water and dog food for the homeless sitting on curbs. My last encounter was my last. I responded to a post about 5 people and a dog that were hungry. The response was that they needed food blankets, etc. I was told to call their cell phone to ascertain when they would be at the location to receive my donations. That’s good. Calling a homeless person’s cell. I called then gathered blankets from my home and some warm shirts. I went to WM and spent $60 on sandwiches, snacks, water and dog supplies. I took them over by WD and encountered a perfectly healthy male sprinting from Dunkin Donuts with his coffee and a cigarette. Very personable man I might ad. He thanked me and told me he would text me if he needed anything. Low and behold 2 days later I had a text from his #. Needless to say that was deleted. Now I only give to food banks and the Humane Society. End of rant.

  48. ASF says:

    To those who ask, “if they don’t have money for food or shelter, how would they have money for drugs?” The answer, sadly, is that some people forgo food and shelter in service to their drug/alcohol habit. That is the terrible nature of addiction. people will give up their homes, families and even their lives because they keep needing to feed their habit. The best answer is to try to offer treatment alternatives and never give up on anybody–but, tragically, some people will not make the choice to become sober. And in some of those cases, it is because some of those addicts are self-medicating their mental health issues. That is what I mean when I say it is a multi-level problem. As for children living in the encampment–Children cannot make that choice and they should be remived from the environment for their own safety. One would hope their parent(s) or Guardian(s) would prioritize them enough to accept help and make the changes necessary to escape that environment but, again sadly, that is not always the case. We have a responsibility to protect children, no matter what the choices of their parents. We need to all stop judging each other and do whatever we can to help the less fortunate. But if some people refuse the help or for other reasons don’t avail themselves of it, we need to step in and actively advocate for and intervene for those who cannot do so for themselves, like children and the seriously disabled. In homeless environments, they are the ones most likely to be the victims of crime and abuse.

  49. The original woody says:

    Most can work but choose not to.Some like being bums whatever money they get is wasted on booze and drugs.Their is no easy answer,I’m sure there is room at the taxpayer funded city hall.

  50. Savannah's Crusade says:

    Hello,
    At 8:45 – 10 am on Wednesday, March 13th the Flagler County Public Safety Coordinating Council is meeting and the topic is homelessness and the high suicide rate in Flagler County. It will be at the Government Services Complex, Emergency Operarions Center, Bldg 3, 1769 E. Moody Blvd, Bunnell, 386-313-4001. If you want to help this would be a great place to start developing solutions –

  51. Mary Fusco says:

    Sorry Maggie, but Boomers would not be homeless. We would have worked 2-3 jobs if necessary. When I had kids in college and money was tight, I worked 2 jobs for 13 hours a day for 8 years. My husband worked every hour of overtime he could get and my kids also worked. Many years ago when my husband worked for NY Telephone, they were on strike for 8 months. I was pregnant. He was informed that he would need to pay for his own health insurance. Since this was before the era of Go Fund Me Accounts, he worked 3 menial jobs since he couldn’t get a permanent job. We managed to pay rent, our health insurance and eat. We went through our little savings but managed to build it up again when he went back to work. Life is made of challenges and we have had many more since then.

  52. Resident of Palm Coast says:

    There are two primary problems:

    1. These camps are a problem for society–health hazard, blight, fire hazard.

    2. The folks in these camps are well immersed in problems with no easy solutions on the human level.

    #1 is a bit more easy to solve than #2. And in fact, until a person is ready to change his or her entire life and get the mental health and substance treatment he or she needs, no solution will work. Some of these citizens have become used to their own daily survival, and living any other way is actually frightening. So we have to work on solving the public health issue–for them and for the rest of the citizens of Palm Coast and the county.

    So a lot of people here are upset at the thought of focusing on our collective quality of life without focusing on the quality of life for the homeless citizens, but we have to address it, because it’s a serious issue.

    We can work on both at the same time: deterring the unhealthy behavior (panhandling) that contributes to their situation while creating an avenue for access to community health and financial resources.

    If you expect there to be a solution which would quickly improve the lives of each of these folks living there in the woods, you have expectations not connected to the reality that exists for them.

    We should care about them. Honor their human dignity, but let’s not fantasize that they are not dealing with super deep issues like heroine and meth addictions or paralyzing mental health disorders. A one year or a five year housing voucher wouldn’t fix it. A tiny house village wouldn’t fix it. A homeless camp with twice-daily trash removal wouldn’t fix it. It wouldn’t help them in the long run, but those options pacify our need to feel like we’ve done something meaningful for them. We will have paid taxes to bandage a problem that requires intensive surgery. In the end, we can only offer resources to them and solve one primary issue which may actually be attainable: cleaning up this mess near the library in some fashion or other and deterring panhandling (the source of their own self-destruction) in some way or another.

    This is a national crisis, and Flagler County is only peeking into it as our population grows. We certainly aren’t the only community with city and county government unable to solve this issue. And as more communities nearby us grapple with the constitutional rights of people panhandling, and with the ever growing problem of addiction, we won’t see an end to this issue.

    Mental health and substance abuse, at the national is at the core of so many of these economic tragedies. None of us, regardless of our backgrounds can solve the problem over night. We must address the public health concern, though. It’s a serious, serious concern, and it’s not at all selfish for our city and county government to be worried about the impact on all citizens.

  53. Shewall says:

    Great article.

  54. palmcoaster says:

    Yes Hammock Bear you are correct…Unfortunately all the homeless are branded with the same label by some here that are totally unaware that homelessness is something we are all a step away from becoming one! Just make the wrong investment or just plain get fired and they will find out! I am all for this county build an inexpensive campsite and do it with volunteers, I will be one to offer my services. and all the other hundreds of volunteers that help them day in and day out . A campsite where they can have toilettes and showers for heaven’s sake! Do you all like them better relieving themselves around the city or in your backyard? Their camp on back of the library is a mess because they do not have garbage pick up either twice a week! Hello.
    The campsite will even help our sheriff officers to have a designated place were to take them as they do not have now. C’mon people as homeless are people as well.

  55. Concerned Citizen says:

    @ Percy’s Mother

    Well what about you? Have you had anyone at your dinner table?

    I have done my share trying to help someone only to see them go right back to drinking or drug use. Fact of the matter is you can only help someone who really wants to help themselves. I no longer give money but will go get someone a meal or buy them a jacket or whatever else is needed.

    These people pan handling make a good amount of money doing it. However I see them at the gas station across from the library buying booze and lotto tickets. And when I go to service nearby properties I have to clean up a good bit of their mess. Then the property owners have to pay for it.

    We often find them loitering under businesses awnings. Some have expensive electronics and are charging their devices. When you ask them to leave (because they are trespassing) they will get belligerent and you find a nastier mess next visit.

    How is this fair to the owner or myself to deal with? And what entitles them to act that way? I’m not the reason they are homeless or jobless. I’m just trying to make my living and keep our clients out of the clutches of a relentless code enforcement.

    I fault the county for this issue. They knew of the camp forming on County owned land. They knew of the drug use and pan handling. Yet no enforcement was enacted to try and slow it down. These people are trespassing and a lot are using illegal narcotics. Why isn’t law enforcement doing it’s job?

    The county has the means to build a shelter. They certainly have the funds to waste on projects and outrageous hiring packages on “Interim Managers” Build that shelter then offer these camp inhabitants a temporary job cleaning up their mess. After it’s done send them to temp agencies and day labor to get them started on working.

  56. kathy roberts says:

    I see them congregating behind library building like hoodlums, another was screaming about politics in front of library loudly a few Fridays ago……we thought this person may have been armed/having a breakdown/maybe an active shooter scenario, I have seen them kindly hold the door for people at convenience store and shortly after go in store and come out, to stash a couple of beers pulled out of shorts on the side of the store; have seen them run into pedestrians on their bikes and get smart-mouthed, begging at Dollar Store, have seen one male sleeping half on grass/half on curb at library. I think they should round them up and take them to where they need to go for their individual situations. They should not be allowed to abuse public property or hinder our ability to feel safe, esp. children. Homeless children should receive good foster homes. I have seen middle-aged man from good family @ Flagler Beach prefer to sleep in woods to be a drunk rather than be sober and live in nice home with parents……this may be the same for some of these people on meth/heroine – their own families don’t want to tolerate their problems; therefore, the homeless prefer the street to rules or being drug/alcohol free. I sure don’t enjoy to see smelly, mentally ill people using benches and refusing help OR to see crack/meth looking skeletons walking the paths. Makes me feel like I need to avoid benches & paths to be more safe for myself. Taxpayers pay to live in a nice environment; homeless are not paying anything and should not get to ruin it for the rest of us. We should not tolerate this behavior or support it; we need to offer them a ride to help officially….down the road when Volusia gets their place ready or to jail for whatever is appropriate; test them for drugs/alcohol and send them through the processes. Let them know this is not acceptable behavior…………instead of encouraging it.

  57. kathy roberts says:

    PS. Dogs aren’t able to get jobs and care for themselves. They aren’t afforded mental health care, don’t have drinking or drug problems. Nor really a good comparison. I think you are saying if we can take care of stray dogs, etc. that we should at least offer similar to human beings. Humans have pride, grudges, familial situations, disabilities, addictions, mental health issues, combinations/complexities. They should be assisted via offering suggested solutions/or go sit in jail or mental health facilities until their needs can be assessed. If they don’t like these jail or mental health facilities, perhaps they will have to seriously consider when options are offered. When children are doing unacceptable, you have to tell them what is acceptable behavior. If they keep choosing unacceptable; there should be consequences. We should have ZERO TOLERANCE for living in the streets/woods. If they are mentally ill, they have State Hospitals in FL. Not great, but not good to roam around town, as some can be dangerous to self & others. WE NEED TO JUST HELP THEM ON THEIR WAY OUT of their problems. Their problems should not become our problems. Move them along the pipeline.

  58. Willy Boyv says:

    Evenly split between comments that suggest help, and those who want to run them off. Thus, we must compromise and everyone loses.

  59. Edith Campins says:

    @Savannah’s Crusade.

    Thank you. It is on my calendar.As for the rest of these selfish, narrow minded haters, I say again, shame on you for your lack of compassion and your flimsy excuses.

  60. Bill says:

    “I am for doing good to the poor, but…I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it. I observed…that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer.”

    ― Benjamin Franklin

  61. ASF says:

    @Edith Campins–Excuse me, I mean no offense to you. But you, yourself, seem to come off as judgemental of those who don’t agree with you. I think there are aspects that we should all be able to agree upon. Like the fact that we should keep trying to make the effort to help people with the problems associated with homelessness but also taking more direct action when children and people with serious disabilities are caught in the crossfires. They are the truly innocent victims–and the ones mst likely to end up being abused and neglected as a result.

  62. Tracy Wells says:

    IF huge word IF Flagler county would acknowledge that we have a homeless issue that would be a huge help!! For those of you putting in your two cents have you ever volunteered at the shelter? Have you ever heard why these people might be homeless? Until you do so you certainly should not pass judgement.

    Have you ever been disabled after working 40 years of your life and given $540/month in benefits and $15/month in food stamps? Neither have I but I personally know several who have and they live in these tent communities. You try living on that let alone pay rent.

    Feel free to give your time, clothing, bedding, cook a meal, do laundry, money to help the Shelter Tree in Bunnell they could use it. Yes they are in Bunnell because Palm Coast will not allow any sort of program within city limits. If you want to learn more about the homeless in Flagler call and schedule time to understand the program and talk to the people that try to help the homeless. Yes I’ve volunteered my time here for 5 years so I can can preach.

    I pray you all have warm beds, clean cloths and a full belly!

    My final rant GO HELP vs complaining !!

  63. Concerned Citizen says:

    @ Edith Campins.

    I am no hater and continue to do my part to help where I can. I’m not rich and live pay check to paycheck. I don’t mind running somewhere and getting someone a meal. And I have literraly given an extra sweatshirt or jacket when needed. I still refuse to give cash though. I’m not supplying someones habit when I have bills to pay.

    How am I selfish when I point out that these people are causing problems that would get most of us arrested? Would you like to come spend a day with me when I get a call to go service a property that has human feces on their front entrance and has to have it cleaned up to do busniess? Or do a run with me where they hang out and pick up their trash on private property? That trash usually includes piles of beer cans and bottles. And I can’t tell you how many times I find needles.

    You are quick to judge but spend some time in others shoes that clean up after them. It might change your outlook a bit. I understand these folks are human but a good many are just down right disrespectful because they feel they can be. And get away with it.

  64. Ld says:

    Washington using conestoga huts.

  65. Bev says:

    I believe 90% of these people do it want help! We all work full time jobs and can barely make it! I’m tired of hearing them bragging about how much money they make in a few hours (tax free) I’ve had some tell me they made almost $300.00 in 4-5 hours. This is Bull they don’t want you to give them food or water Why? You all know why, I think we should do as other towns have done I panhandling! I’m sorry but they can get a job I also have a question whose the lady in the blur Toyota She drops people off near the library then you see them on the corner Is she taking their money someone is paying her for gas and what ever else I think the city should clean the land up get rid of all the under brush and then they will leave

  66. Chips says:

    What about our rights as tax paying/homeowners of PC? Aren’t we entitled to safely use the library that we paid for? Why must the value of our property decline, because of the “rights” of the homeless.? All official do is talk…no action.This has been going on for a long time. This town is no longer the town we moved to. I would not be able to park a tent on my own property and throw garbage all over the lawn. What gives the homeless this right? We have right, also!

  67. 2Cents says:

    City Ordinance (?) Health Codes (?) Drug Laws (?) Resident Rights (?) Doing nothing makes it so much easier for these camps to stay put, get bigger and more dangerous for those living in them and the tax paying residents to have to worry about their own safety and property value.. “Do Gooder’s” feeding and clothing the camps just gives a free ride to stay in the camps. I agree with cleaning the area up making it more visible from the street. Why not add some flood lights that come on periodically?. If it is uncomfortable they will move on. Homeless by Choice, Drug Addiction, Mental Issues, PTSD I get it (have family members with these issues) Live and Let Live..but please not in my back yard .

  68. palmcoaster says:

    Thank you Tracy for your humane compassion!

  69. new palmcoaster says:

    My wife and i have moved to palm coast recently. I have some experience dealing with the problem at hand. many homeless are mentally ill and when we clean them up and supply them decent housing they just return to their old ways. We had a person who was a successful attorney in our old community. Over several years she first allowed her home go to ruin and she began to arrive in court unclean and then began living on the street. This took some time to get bad. She was offered help by many who cared about her but she refused..
    That was different from the vet who suffered from ptsd and accepted help from the va.
    There is no one solution to the problem. There are many problems but the one that concerns the residents is our safety and clean living conditions, The tax payers in this community have to look to the government officials to spend our money to our benefit not those who pay nothing. That sounds heartless but we all have to take responsibility for our actions and life. Again those who are mentally ill can not be expected to do that but everyone else must.

  70. Mary Ann says:

    I know a lot of the homeless really belong in hospitals. Since the state run hospitals have all gone away, that’s no longer possible. But there is no reason these same people can’t do their own housecleaning. Why should people that made the mess not be responsible to clean up. If they refuse, then they will be “evicted” from this site. Make those responsible BE responsible.

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