As a federal investigation forced Bunnell government to allow the re-opening of a homeless cold-weather shelter there, County Administrator Jerry Cameron told city officials what they haven’t heard in 11 years: that homelessness is a shared responsibility.
The Sheltering Tree had operated Bunnell’s cold-weather shelter for 11 years out of 1st United Methodist Church on Pine Street until the Bunnell City Commission shut down the operation in July, refusing to approve a special zoning exception for it.
Flagler’s Public Safety Council heard how the homeless and panhandlers have been largely (but not completely) criminalized in St. Augustine, but were not eager to replicate the approach in Flagler.
Flagler Beach Commissioner Eric Cooley pushed for an ordinance targeting “aggressive panhandling” in the city, but the Police Chief Matt Doughney rejected the premise that there was such an issue in Flagler Beach, and got the proposal tabled pending his revisions.
The Bunnell City Commission voted this evening to end the operations of the Sheltering Tree, the county’s only cold-weather homeless shelter, at a church in Bunnell. The church and Sheltering Tree organizers say they will pursue legal avenues.
The city that calls itself the crossroads of Flagler County is losing its bearings, its heart, and sometimes its mind–over the homeless, over panhandlers, over the sheriff’s office. It is becoming petty. It is becoming mean and resentful, and discriminatory.
The Sheltering Tree board that runs Bunnell’s cold weather shelter held a brainstorming session with supporters to reverse a city boards decision that shut down the shelter after 11 years,
The Flagler Beach City Commission this evening will discuss adopting an ordinance against “aggressive” panhandling at the urging of City Commissioner Eric Cooley, a business owner in town.
The Bunnell City Commission got a preview of the two sharply divided sides that will appear before it again soon in defense of and in opposition to the preservation of the cold-weather shelter for the homeless at First United Methodist Church on Pine Street.
Bunnell’s zoning board voted to disallow the Sheltering Tree, the county’s only cold-weather shelter, from operating out of the United Methodist Church, potentially ending 11 years of service by the non-profit. The Sheltering Tree intends to appeal to the city commission.