Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

Homeless Residents To Be Relocated From LaVilla Tent City; Fences Going Up

Fencing is going up around the Lavilla tent city.
Sydney Boles
/
WJCT News
Fencing is going up around the Lavilla tent city.

Citing health and safety violations, the city of Jacksonville is fencing off a LaVilla block near Downtown where homeless people have been living in an informal tent city. 

Residents have been told they need to move by Tuesday, March 9.

The tent city has been growing over several months, with some counts placing its occupancy at over 200. City officials in February mobilized its Downtown homelessness task force to help, and successfully relocated 48 residents of the tent city into area hotels in short order. But the tent city continued to balloon. 

WJCT News partner News4Jax reported that law enforcement officers from other counties had even dropped people off at the site, perhaps expecting they would have greater access to services. 

“The City of Jacksonville is responsible for enforcing code violations that compromise public safety, and at this time, we have to take precautions to ensure individuals are not at risk,” said Jacksonville spokesperson Nikki Kimbleton. “In order to also ensure these individuals can take advantage of the many resources available to them, like food, water, bathrooms, shelter, storage, clothing and much more, we must relocate them to places that do not pose public health or safety risks.”

As of Thursday afternoon, the tent city was quiet as workers dug holes and hung lines for the new fence. Some residents of the tent city enjoyed the sunshine or sorted through donated goods. One resident who asked not to be named because he did not want to be associated with his homelessness said he felt he hadn’t received enough information from the city about what would happen on Tuesday. 

When asked what he thought he would do next, he just shrugged. 

A temporary shelter for those displaced by the move will open that same day. The city said it will also help tent city residents make use of existing services, including approximately 88 vacant beds at area shelters. 

Contact Sydney Boles at sboles@wjct.org, or on Twitter at @sydneyboles.

Sydney manages community engagement programs like WJCT News' Coronavirus Texting Service. Originally from the mountains of upstate New York, she relocated to Jacksonville from Kentucky, where she reported on Appalachia's coal industry.