Newberry Road overpass: Haven for homeless and complaints
State officials were beneath the Newberry road overpass today cleaning up after some of the homeless.
This overpass over Newberry road has become a haven for Gainesville’s homeless - and complaints.
For authorities it's become a delicate dance of trying to keep the area clean and protect the dignity of those who live on the street.
“DOT likes to come in and grab your clothes, your bagseverything,” says Happy, a homeless man. “And all they do is throw it away. Some of us need to use that to live.”
Today a crew sent by the Florida Department of Transportation attempted to clean it up a little.
“They do this every month,” said E, a homeless man. “They come by and take our stuff, take all of our clothes. They take all of our blanketseverything. They took my dog’s bed.”
“It’s hard enough to get these things,” Happy said. “Some of us don’t use them once and throw them awaywe depend on them. If I could keep it clean under there, could you please keep my blankets alone? That’s what I’d like them to do.”
FDOT tells us they told the contractors to leave personal belongings alone.
“I think we know there are homeless individuals in that area,” said Troy Roberts of the Florida Department of Transportation. “I feel like there is some discretion given to the people that are picking it up. But again, if they’re instructed to only pick up items they see as trash, and not pick up anything that may have been used, like a blanket or a type of clothing, I’m fairly confident they would have tried to do as they were told.”
E and Happy say they believe it's part of an effort to get rid of them for good.
“They’re making it harder for us to come up when they keep pushing us down, down, down, down,” E said. “So they make it hard for us to try to be better when they make it worse on us.”
The county is still considering an ordinance that will address the issue.