• Homeless population increases in St. Johns County; residents worried about homeless camps

    By: Beth Rousseau , Action News Jax

    Updated:

    Homelessness is up 4% in St.Johns County from 2018, according to an annual survey conducted by the Continuum of Care.

    Action News Jax reporter Beth Rousseau talked with families concerned about the homeless camps in the area and has that report on CBS47 at 6: 

    Data from the ‘Point-in-time count’ shows there are 356 homeless people in the county, 200 living unsheltered.

    Mary Foulks said there are homeless camps on either side of her neighborhood.


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    She told Action News Jax, “I understand there’s an alcohol problem and a drug problem so you’ll find needles, you know, and bottles and stuff like that.”

    David Meadows said he has been homeless for seven years. He spends most of his days in downtown St. Augustine.

    "I don’t run around drinking and do drugs and all that crap. There are ones that do and that make a nuisance of themselves," he described.

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    In November, St. Augustine’s mayor at the time, Nancy Shaver, said there weren’t enough resources in the city to help the homeless.

    Action News Jax Reporter Beth Rousseau asked the city’s new mayor, Tracy Upchurch, what he’s doing to change that.

    “Well, again, we’re devoting a lot of resources to it as it is," he said.

    According to Upchurch, they city has two law enforcement officers dedicated to addressing homelessness since the cities panhandling ordinance went into effect last.

    He also explained, “[The city is] Trying to partner with the county who does have access additional sources and grants, etc. where we can provide services for these folks.”

    Meadows said some are content with the way things are and don’t need additional resources.

    “I’m not really looking for anything,” he said.

    A spokesperson with the organization that coordinates the ‘point-in-time count’ says St. Johns County is seeing an increase in those who are homeless for the first time.

    According to the organization, there is a reduction in the time one remains on the streets, indicating the community is reducing the length of time individuals are homeless.

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