Charlotte County homeless shelter not up to code, needs funding

Reporter: Erika Jackson Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:

Inspectors have been at a homeless shelter in Charlotte County six times since 2012. It continues to be in code violation with the county. And its president says it does not have the funds it needs to get it back into shape.

On Thursday, Charlotte County Code Compliance found several violations on the property of Bread of Life Mission in Solana, just east of Punta Gorda.

“We are in violation,” said Judy Jones, president of the shelter. “We don’t have the funds. We don’t have the money.”

Jones let us tour the property, and she told us she is doing the best she can, while housing dozens and sometimes hundreds of people on a weekly basis.

Rebecca Copenhaver’s garden shop sits feet away from the Bread of Life homeless camp, what she calls a blemish on Scott Street.

“It is their property,” Copenhaver said. “They know what is going on.”

Its investigators reported finding several people living in tents, an outdoor kitchen setup, a shed used for housing and electricity reliant on extension cords.

“We can’t afford the right electrical outlet that we need,” said Judy Jones,

But Copenhaver said the biggest issues are a pile of old furniture, clothing and various debris that piles up along the roadway across from the Scott Park playground.

“The fact that the pile stays there for so long and gets so big, it is just annoying,’ Copenhaver said.

Copenhaver said neighbors also contribute by adding their junk to the growing pile, which Jones had cleared up after code enforcement’s recent visit.

Bread of Life has until Tuesday, June 11 to clean up the property and make sure it’s code compliant. Related, Charlotte County’s Homeless Coalition is the only emergency homeless shelter in the county.

Some worry the mess will quickly return like it has in the past, putting everyone at an even bigger safety risk.

“I can’t believe that they are happy with it,” Copenhaver said.

Copyright ©2023 Fort Myers Broadcasting. All rights reserved.

This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without prior written consent.