Anxiety grows among Daytona homeless as shelter opening remains uncertain

By Brittany Jones, Reporter
Last Updated: Wednesday, December 06, 2017, 6:31 PM EST

A Daytona Beach homeless shelter is expected to open sometime next year or possibly 2019, but it’s needed now.

  • Daytona Beach homeless said they're being forced out of safe zones
  • City spokeperson said goal is to open shelter in 2018
  • New shelter groundbreaking scheduled for Dec. 13

Homeless people said they are being forced out of the only place they have to go.

Kermit Hartley said he has to pack up all of his things daily as he loads up his cart and covers it to secure his items.

He said he's been homeless a few weeks, and now sleeps on the ground in the safe zone. He said an organization who helps the homeless dropped him off at the site more than a week ago.

"Brought me out here with a tent dropped me out here and said I’d be safe, and I haven’t been safe since. They say this is a safe zone but it’s not a safe zone when the police runs up in here every day and harasses us," said Hartley.

"This is the safe zone," a woman told police in a video by Mike Pastore.

Mike Pastore, who said he is a homeless advocate captured the video Monday when Daytona Beach police told them to leave the makeshift camp.

"He’s telling us to take it down. What are we going to do?" said the woman on the video.

"Came in 5 a.m., told us we got to get out, we got to drop our tents at 5 o’clock. There’s nothing open. There’s no place to go," Hartley said.

The Daytona Beach police chief said as a courtesy until a shelter is finished, they’re only allowing the homeless to stay here and put up tents between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m., though city ordinance says there’s no camping allowed.

The problem a new "first step homeless shelter" is in the works, but they haven't even broken ground on it.

"City leaders are committed to assisting our homeless population; however, we have one opportunity to get the facility right. At this point, due diligence is absolutely necessary to maximize the facility’s usefulness and efficiencies,” said city spokesperson Susan Cerbone.

“The building is more than four simple walls, a roof and a few bunkbeds. Thought and planning is going into every aspect of the functional design. There are many, many decisions which need to be made at this critical stage.”

Cerbone also added, “The team is working diligently on accomplishing our goal of opening in 2018. We are reviewing various construction options to streamline and accelerated the process.”

The city said their goal is to have it open by 2018, but if not, they’re working on other options in where to place the homeless until it is finished.  

For some with no place to go, time isn't on their side.

"I think they need to hurry up and get it. I wish somebody would do something," Hartley said.

The First Step Homeless Shelter's groundbreaking is still scheduled for next week on Dec. 13. All various stakeholders and city leaders are expected to attend.