City works on plan to address homelessness


Local officials have tried before and failed to address homelessness in Pensacola, and another plan is set to be brought to the City Council for discussion next month.

City Administrator Keith Wilkins told the News Journal that they are working on a series of proposals for the city to help homeless people and address the issue of panhandling in the city after meeting with downtown business owners last month.

“We’re putting all that into a report, and we’ll kind of phase the actions in the report so city council and the mayor can do some short-term stuff, some long-term stuff and put some dollars to it,” Wilkins said.

He said the plan was still a work in progress but will include providing public restrooms downtown, a public education campaign to discourage giving to panhandlers, and forming teams to go out and provide care to homeless individuals.

Pensacola Mayor Grover Robinson tried to tackle the issue of homelessness by bringing together city and county officials along with private organizations that help the homeless at a summit meeting at the Pensacola Bay Center in 2019.

Many business owners along Palafox Street in Downtown Pensacola are concerned that neither the City nor the Downtown Improvement Board is willing to address the persistent homeless issue in the City.

Out of the meeting came a consensus that more shelter was needed, as well as a way to coordinate care between the several different organizations. However, nothing happened following the meeting as both the city and county couldn’t agree on how to split the cost of providing a shelter.

Since then providers of homeless care in Pensacola have been hit hard first by the COVID-19 pandemic and then by Hurricane Sally, forcing many groups to close or reduce services and leaving an already vulnerable population with fewer options for care.



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