Large homeless camp torn down near Orange Park Mall

ORANGE PARK, Fla. — A homeless camp near the Orange Park Mall has been demolished in a wooded area.

Christina Mendez has lived in Clay County for years and told Action News Jax that she sees homeless people walking around Blanding Boulevard and Wells Road every day. ”This is the first time I had not seen a beggar outside begging for anything,” Mendez said.

The Clay County Sheriff’s office said it had received several complaints in the area about homelessness and drug activity. Sheriff Michelle Cook said on her Facebook page it was being used as a haven for drug users and dealers.

Several months ago, deputies reached out to the owner of the property to see if he could help with a drug and nuisance complaint surrounding a homeless camp. The owner agreed to cooperate, and a tree removal service was brought in to tear it down on Tuesday.

Many neighbors told us it had been a nuisance for years and they were glad to see it go.

One man named Richard, who didn’t want to go on camera, said he knew several people who lived in the camp, and most were just trying to survive. “If you lost your house and everything, think about the times you’ve had...you know what I’m saying? They need some build up too you know, they were building themselves up,” Richard said.

We stopped by the camp inside the woods on Wednesday to see if anyone was still there, but it was empty when got here. Inside we noticed pieces of clothing, trash, wood, knives, cigarettes, and other items that were left over after tree houses were knocked down.

Mendez said just because one camp is gone doesn’t mean the homeless issue is solved. “It just spreads it from one side to the next. All they’re doing is moving it across the street, they’re already started moving across the street,” he said.

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