DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Within 36 hours of Hurricane Irma's blast through Daytona Beach, with many of the tourist-destination's traffic lights still out, motorists started venturing out and the homeless panhandlers were already in place at nearly every major intersection to greet them.
Literally dozens of Daytona's chronic homeless, were on the streets plying their trade.
And in the weeks since Irma nothing has changed in terms of the homeless presence.
Political and business leaders have said they understand how frustrating the homeless situation is to shop keepers in the downtown with the aggressive panhandling, the defecating and urinating in alleyways and parks that has become more commonplace in recent years.
“The City pretty much can't stop panhandling because the courts declared it free speech nationwide,” Jim Cameron, senior vice president of governmental affairs for the Daytona Regional Chamber of Commerce told Headline Surfer. “This came from City Attorney Bob Jagger.”
City and county politicians and business leaders are looking to the building of a homeless shelter for the homeless on he outskirts of the city as a way to lessen their presence in the downtown.
“This city commission approved the annexation of land for the shelter last Wednesday night which is one of the final steps,” Cameron told Headline Surfer. “They have now started clear land on Red John Road and hopefully a groundbreaking (ceremony) should occur soon.”
The Volusia County Council back in June approved a 100-bed homeless facility to be located 10 miles from Daytona's downtown on vacant county land near the Volusia County Branch Jail. The two most outspoken proponents on the dais were County Chair Ed Kelley and at-large Councilwoman Joyce Cusack.
The project requires Volusia County to provide the land and deed it over to Daytona Beach, initial construction costs of $2.5 million and annual costs of $400,000 for five consecutive years. County and city leaders have said they expect the shelter to be built by early next year.
Headline Surfer photo by Henry Frederick / A homeless man holds up a sign asking passing motorists for money on Ridgewood Avenue in Daytona Beach, Florida, nearly two days after Hurricane Irma passed through the city.