Cape council member will back Fort Myers Mayor Kevin Anderson’s plan for homeless

Cape Coral City Councilmember Jennifer Nelson will address Fort Myers City Council Monday…

Cape council member will back Fort Myers Mayor Kevin Anderson's plan for homeless 1

Fort Myers Mayor Kevin Anderson is broadening his effort to move homeless people living in tents at Lions Park next to Lee Memorial Hospital.

It will be a second attempt to win approval for a plan that would move them to a parcel owned by the Salvation Army in the rear of its Edison Avenue complex.

Cape Coral Council member Jennifer Nelson plans to speak to the Fort Myers council members on Anderson’s proposal and on the need for homeless people to have access to services when housing is found for them.

Cape Coral City Council member Jennifer Nelson plans to cross the Caloosahatchee and address members of the Fort Myers City Council on issues affecting the homeless at the council meeting Monday evening.

“There isn’t a long-term sustainable solution where they can kind of learn how to relive, whether that’s getting sober from drugs or alcohol or whether that’s having some sort of mental issues such as bipolar or they’re not understanding  how to take the medication,”  Nelson told a Cape Coral council workshop.

Anderson has been calling for moving the homeless to a place where Salvation Army services will be available where they live. His first bid to win council approval for the relocation lost on a 4-3 vote.  

Fort Myers, Lee County split over helping homeless

Here’s what happened to cause the controversy over moving the homeless

MoreHow the Salvation Army is trying to help

He said he’s glad Nelson is coming over from Cape Coral to lend her voice to the cause. 

“We need to hear from a diversity of courses if we are to have an impact,” he said. 

Council member Liston Bochette filed a motion to take up the issue a second time.

City council members will consider it for a second time during its regular meeting at 4:30 p.m. Monday at City Hall. The meeting will also be televised on the city’s cable access channel.

Anderson continues to insist that the homeless need to be at a place where services are available to help them with issues that lead to chronic homelessness.

“You just can’t just shelter, whether it be in a facility or a house,” Anderson said Friday. “The whole purpose of the rapid rehousing, of housing first, is stability so that you can work on the issues that led them to be homeless.”

After the Fort Myers City Council rejected the relocation, Lee County Commissioners took no action on a scheduled vote to sign a memorandum with the city to undertake a cooperative effort at the Salvation Army site. 

It has raised concerns with the mayor, who worries the city lost its chance for a broader solution.   

“I’m concerned the train may have left the station and we won’t be,”  Anderson said. “The county is moving forward, and it is obvious that maybe that piece of ours, which is housing at the temporary location behind the Salvation Army, may not be necessary for the county to be successful.” 

Members of the HOT team met at Lions Park in Fort Myers this week to offer services to help get the homeless population off the street. The population of homeless has swelled at the park over the last several months.

Nelson told her Cape Coral council colleagues at a workshop meeting last week that she would be present at the Fort Myers meeting and planned to speak to the situation that developed in Lee County.

Nelson has been active in the Continuum of Care program of the Lee County Homeless Coalition.

Her presence Monday would show support for the idea of having programs to support homeless people after they are placed in housing and for the coalition’s work.

“I was asked by the mayor of Fort Myers to do a presentation at their council meeting. You will hear me present on what we do and perhaps that would give you some ideas or a better understanding of what’s needed in our county and what we are trying to do,” Nelson said. “Whether it is the city of Cape Coral, Bonita, Fort Myers, we don’t know where this sustainable housing would be.”

A large population of homeless invidiuals have taken up residence at Lions Park in Fort Myers over the last several months.

Last week’s 4-3 vote found Anderson, Bochette and Fred Burson voting in favor of the relocation, with Johnnie Streets, Terolyn Watson, Teresa Watkins Brown and Darla Bonk in opposition.

Bonk has said that she needed to hear more about the program and expects to support the mayor’s proposal at Monday’s meeting, which would mean a 4-3 vote in favor of moving the homeless if all the other votes stayed the same.


The mayor finds an analogy for the need to treat the causes of homelessness along with finding shelter from the “Home Makeover” TV show.

“They did a house for a football coach in Texas who had three kids and a wife. An illness led to bankruptcy and they redid the house and it was beautiful. He took out an equity loan, couldn’t pay, and lost the house,” Anderson said. “Just fixing the house is not the answer, like just housing someone is not the answer.”

error

Enjoy our news? Please spread the word :)