Progress delayed on Centennial Park as many remain homeless

Reporter: Sydney Persing Writer: Drew Hill
Published: Updated:

After dozens of people were forced out of their homes, they began sleeping in Centennial Park in Fort Myers. But construction shut the park down and forced these people out. Now, that construction project is behind.

Even on rainy days, there’s work to be done in Fort Myers’ Centennial Park, says Mayor Kevin Anderson. “We removed the old equipment, we removed the trees,” Anderson said. “They’re putting in irrigation, it will be resodded at some point.”

When asked if that required the urgent push to remove the homeless out of Centennial Park the mayor said “yes” and “no.”

“Yes, there was urgency to get the construction going. But that is a public park that is designed for families and children and people of all ages,” said the Mayor. “It was overrun by homeless people, that’s not the intention of a public park.”

The reason so many people called Centennial Park home is because on a rainy day, it gave them something most places don’t – shelter.

Kristy Santana and Alex Olivares work for the Catholic Charities Diocese of Venice and say they have the money to house the homeless. “First month, last month, deposits, utilities,” Olivares said.

They received up to nearly $700,000 grant and all of it will fund housing homeless people in Lee County, who are likely the same homeless people who called Centennial Park home.

They believe the relocation of the homeless in Lee County needs to happen soon. “t’s very important that we assist them with housing quickly,” said Santana.

Catholic Charities will work with Lee County officials to make sure that their housing for the homeless project works, starting with those who are eligible.

To be eligible, you have to go through Lee County Human and Veteran Services. To check your eligibility and for more information, call 239-533-7996.

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