City Walk Urban Mission is a local organization that has formed a temporary shelter at 1709 Mahan Drive in response to Tallahassee’s four emergency shelters having to decrease their capacity because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Recently, area residents have voiced concern over the safety of the shelter.
The City of Tallahassee and The Big Bend Continuum of Care (BBCoC) say that in November 2020, the City Walk shelter was opened as a low barrier homeless shelter — meaning that the homeless population can use it without mental health and substance abuse treatment.
Abena Ojetayo, Director of Housing and Community Resilience at the City of Tallahassee confirmed that the City does not provide direct services to the homeless population. All the local homeless shelters are operated by nonprofit agencies and they participate as members of BBCoC, which is the primary coordinating agency for all homeless service providers in the Tallahassee region.
Leon County Commissioner Kristin Dozier confirmed that on Jan. 8, the BBCoC met with City Walk and discussed that in the long term, City Walk would like to expand and provide permanent and transitional housing and use office space for social services at the Mahan location.
Residents have shown concern about the homeless shelter and reached out to local elected officials. Concerns from residents include the homeless population sleeping and loitering around businesses and neighborhoods near Mahan Drive as well as a registered sex offender residing within the shelter.
Renee Miller, executive director of City Walk Urban Mission told Tallahassee Reports that she understands residents’ concerns, but she believes that the shelter actually makes the community much safer.
“If someone is legally allowed to receive services from us, we do not deny them that,” Miller said. “Everyone that we serve we know is in compliance with state statute.”
Miller said the registered sex offender currently residing at the shelter committed a sex crime in 2003, before the Jessica Lunsford Act, which enforces strict sex offender registration requirements, took effect. The individual was released from prison in 2013 and is on state probation now for a failure to register.
Miller argued that the shelter’s guidelines are more restrictive than state probation guidelines and said the shelter is “an added level of protection.”
“We know where he is all the time because he’s in our program,” she said. “We have cameras everywhere, so we can see him all the time. Probation doesn’t have cameras on him 24/7. Their curfew is 10:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. Our curfew for him is he’s not leaving the property without us or an escort designated by us for the first thirty days. Secondly, our curfew is 7:00 p.m. so even if he was allowed to go off-site, like to the grocery store or something, he has to be back at his room at 7:00 p.m. With probation, it’s 10:00 p.m.”
Miller said the shelter can also search rooms and drug test at any time. She also said that alcohol is not allowed.
Miller also said there are certain people on the sex offender registry that the shelter cannot take, including individuals to which the Jessica Lunsford Act applies. She said the shelter has already turned away three individuals.
Looking forward, Miller said that City Walk has procured a project manager to ensure that the shelter has necessary permits and is compliant with the City’s codes.
She said people concerned about the shelter are welcome to contact her or schedule a tour of the facility.
This is new Director is the person who destroyed the downtown shelter…by allegations which were later proved false…although by then the rush to judgement destroyed the Executive Director who had dedicated his life to the homeless, and who largely kept the current situations of the panhandling and moving into the neighborhoods in check. And, at that time, there were allegations made that there was questionable backgrounds among those associated with the above referenced organization (NOT the old shelter, who did run backgrounds checks on personnel)….so perhaps someone should clarify why now for them? And look at the books for all grants.
We saw the suggestion that a shelter be put on Springhill Road. Those of us on the South and SoutHwest side of Tallahassee don’t appreciate it that we are always in the suggestion box for dumping the least desirable elements of society. We already have the sewage treatment plant and would prefer another one or a landfill rather than hundreds of people of questionable character loitering around us. Does bring some satisfaction knowing that a more affluent neighborhood is getting a sample of what the South and Southwest side has lived with for many years. Stop baiting these undesirables to Tallahassee by offering such fine amenities. Arrest panhandlers. Provide care for the mentally challenged. Stop giving money to drug addicts and alcoholics. It’s like feeding stray cats.
I don’t live in any of the neighborhoods affected by this homeless shelter. I would be interested to know where those defending it and its “less fortunate” ones do live. I would bet they are not in those neighborhoods experiencing the frightening and/or threatening events either.
We have enough vacant land in the County and surrounding areas to build beautiful tiny home communities. I’d be happy to help with such a project. These communities have proven to be very successful in other states. Ultimately, the operating cost would be much lower than paying rent on prime office property.
Imagine how empowering it would be for those in need of housing to participate in building their own homes.
Will City Walk compensate all the surrounding residences for the drop in property value? When people purchase homes in an area, the decision involves zoning considerations.
When an area is zoned residential and office, it’s essentially a contract of trust between the city and those who purchase property in the area.
I have already noticed an increase in homeless people in the neighborhood, and politely invited more than one to stop hanging around in people’s carports. Beyond that, I’ve never made an issue of it or called the police, as I’ve have witnessed that the response isn’t always appropriate. I really don’t mind rubbing elbows with the homeless, even when I need to redirect them from opportunistic prowling.
However, as a victim of molestation, I sure as hell wouldn’t have bought a home here, if I knew I’d be directly behind a facility that accepts un-screened residents.
I also take extreme exception to any agency that attempts to bully their way into a neighborhood without complying with the approval process. They were given temporary access to the building, then decided to squat. That they are already breaking the rules does little to convince me that they will live up future requirements.
We know it needs to be on a Bus Route therefor there are few places to choose from. I say take that $10 Million Dollars to be used for the NE Part and use it to buy several Acres on Tram Road (inside Cap. Cir.) or on Spring Hill Road (inside Cap. Cir.) and build 8 to 10 large Quonset Huts. 6 to 8 of then are to be like Bootcamp Barracks and the rest used for a Mess Hall, Laundry, Showers, etc. Nothing fancy, just the basics. Fence the area off and set rules. You run it like you would an Army Base. To maintain the Property and Buildings, Cooking and Cleaning, you assign Jobs to those staying there that are able to do them. Doing this will give them time to get cleaned up, get the help they need and hopefully find a Job. It will also give them an Address to they can receive their Benefits, especially since many of them are Veterans.
Find an empty building over by the Kearney Center to house these folks, what a thoughtless and selfish decision to put this “shelter” in the middle of three neighborhoods!
When will these people figure out that it pays to be homeless? Head to southern NaziCrat-run cities in the winter and suck up all their entitlements, then back up north to NaxiCrat-run cities in the summer… rinse and repeat, rinse and repeat, rinse and repeat….
This is what happens when you all keep voting for these bleeding heart liberals. What is yours that you worked hard for, is theirs! They try to play on your emotions saying you do not care about the homeless, blah, blah, blah.
Until one of these homeless residents attacks, rapes or murders an innocent person, maybe then those idiots voted in will look into it! Oh wait it is then a law enforcement problem.
You city is being destroyed day by day..
I am so thankful I no longer live there and have to pay taxes to all these pie in the sky ideas.
What does that even mean? Of course I volunteer in time and money, and don’t waste my time clutching pearls over a few people who might not look as pretty as you, existing in public. Get over yourself and find some empathy.
So tell me, Elizabeth and “your neighbor”… with those big, compassionate, caring, liberal hearts of yours… exactly how many “less fortunate” have each of you taken into your glass houses? … or are you like most of your judgmental and hypocritical ilk, and waiting for some guy named “Federal” to take care of the problem.
… go ahead… take your time… I’ll wait…
“Tallahassee Reports” appears to attract the most selfish, non-compassionate and plain old MEAN readers.” I guess this is where conservative Tallahasseeans feel free to scream, whine, spit, and gnash their teeth whenever our local government actually allows assistance be provided to our homeless.
Every issue raised here has a potential solution. Try being a part of it.
IDK who all needs to hear this, but nobody is being homeless *AT* you. No matter what choices a person’s made, if they’re in that situation, they’ve got it worse than I do. Why kick someone when they’re down, even figuratively? The lack of compassion up in these parts is astounding and disappointing.
Going a little off on a rant, but “giving back” and “less-fortunate” are phrases created by leftists to subliminally denigrate self-reliance and personal achievement.
To imply that one person is homeless, destitute, dirty, drunk, spaced out on drugs, unemployable, and generally miserable because he is “less fortunate” is to imply that a successful person – one with a job, a home and a future – is in that position because he or she was “fortunate.” The dictionary says that fortunate means “having derived good from an unexpected place.” There is nothing unexpected about deriving good from hard work. There is also nothing unexpected about deriving misery from choosing drugs, alcohol, and the street instead of education and personal responsibility. Except for those with mental or physical disabilities/illnesses, these people are there because of the choices they made.
While it is true that the community has some responsibility to help the “less fortunate” but those less fortunate should have some nexus to community. If the less fortunate can show they live and work in Leon County and have fallen on hard times by all means Leon Countians should help them. If they have no tie to Leon County then a ride in the back of the sheriffs car to the neighboring county of their choice is in order.
Pretty simple, run them out of town, do not let them panhandle or camp.
They will find a different location to inhabit.
I have no personal responsibility to take care of them, nor do I wish to.
Buy them all bus tickets to San Fran for that matter, cheaper than housing them.
Until we stop with the PC (they’re just “less fortunate”) Pansy culture, and address this issue on an individual and personal responsibility basis, this ignorance and waste of tax dollars will continue in perpetuity. Only in a NaziCrat-run city do you see hoards of homeless staggering past “Now Hiring” signs on their way to a taxpayer-funded handout.
That explains it! Why didn’t anyone tell these me about this place? You know how I found out, I stepped in human waste!
I walk down Mahan all the time to get some exercise in like my doctor says. Here I am walking and I slide on something and I look down. I kid you not it was a coiled up log, looked like a mean stinky rattler ready to strike. God I wish it had a rattle I would’ve avoided it. Are we becoming our own little San Francisco?
Dammit I took off those shoes threw them away from me right there and walked home in socks. No wonder all these people have been asking me for change every day I go out. The next day I saw one of them wearing those same defiled shoes. God almighty enough is enough. I’m on a fixed income!
The DRC will be determining whether to grant a permit for a permanent, low-threshold shelter, Type-B site plan. Our elected officials will NOT be making the determination. The DRC members are:
NIMBY- Not In My Backyard.
So many commenters who claim to not be NIMBY, but clearly are. Nobody is NIMBY until they feel victimized. “I want the homeless to have shelter, just not in my neighborhood.” Reasonable citizens want the government to protect them from the “less fortunate”, the name given to drug addicts, convicted criminals, and others who are “unfortunate” due to their own life decisions. Some are homeless due to truly economic conditions or mental health.
Everybody is NIMBY when they perceive a threat. Let’s don’t pretend otherwise.
It is a hugely complex, volatile issue with few popular solutions. Elected city and county commissioners avoid become involved as much as possible because they know the issue never ends well politically. They know they will be criticized no matter what they do. That’s why they try to stay clear and pass the buck.
There are two schools of thought:
1. A community has a moral duty to help the less fortunate, so we should build shelters and allow and assist private companies that build and manage shelters.
2. The more shelters and services a city provides, the more homeless will come and stay. “Build them and they will come.”
Either way, politicians will be there for the grand opening with the positive photo ops, but will become invisible and stay out of sight when some tragedy occurs, or even when a resident is just accosted or frightened by a homeless person who is there because of the shelter.
When a neighborhood successfully unifies its political muscle and forces a shelter to close or relocate, the shelter just moves to another neighborhood, the community as a whole, is not made more safe.
When a city or county imposes standards for shelters to admit residents, the less desirable are turned back onto the streets and the into the residential areas. The mentally unstable, those with a criminal history, and the most dangerous, don’t get in.
So, what’s the right thing to do? I don’t know, but neither do your elected officials, including the Sheriff. They are all way too busy ducking ricochets.
Just wait until some of those Millions of ILLEGALS get here. If you’re complaining NOW, give it a few Months and see how it will be.
I am not a NIMBY and support housing for the homeless population…BUT I expect to have a voice when it comes to how these programs are established and run in the long term. Especially when the shelter is situation in the center of so many residential neighborhoods. This shelter has Inglewood directly behind it (which is a hop across the tracks) and Brant Hills directly in front of it.
I agree that the issue is not the housing part but when the residents are turned back out onto the streets. I do not need to be schooled on what great things have been done by the folks who run these programs and shelters – I know and appreciate everything they do. My concern is what happens every morning when the doors open and 120 +/- homeless people start walking the streets of our neighborhoods. This is the part that is uncontrolled. And what of the folks that don’t get a bed at night or are turned away for some other reason? What of them?
When I lived in Inglewood our middle schoolers would walk to and from Cobb. They would often take shortcuts (what kids don’t?) and I would have huge concerns now if I was in that position. I do know of middle schoolers now that walk from Brandt Hills to Cobb. Do parents need to be concerned and start transporting their kids to school? I certainly would be.
Hi Not taking up for no sex afender and sad to hear they are disrespectful to sleeping all around everywhere but they pull me out of the streets from the cold on the cold nights and mornings respect the organization for that I don’t think they should close it down just monitor who lives there and keep the bad out and off of there property Thank you and have a Blessed Day and nights and stay safe and hope he’s not living there around you guys the bad one
I am very concerned about this situation as well. We need to get our commissioner on it right away!
You should see the Facebook group of these people in the Brandt Hills area. The occasional concerned citizen will post about some hobo walking though the neighborhood urinating while at a gallop and Karen with her Biden bumper sticker will degrade the poster for not having enough human empathy. “I hope you don’t post about me being suspicious talking fido for a walk, that could be me, next is the gas chambers I know it!” Such people will cry out in tolerance even when that PhD. Hobo has a knife to their child’s throat.
If I win the lottery I am going to buy every house that goes for sale in this neighborhood and rent it out to Section 8. This is what you people vote for.
You get what you vote for!
While you’re at it someone needs to investigate why the Boulos Corporation project on Apalachee Parkway was allowed to get away with the horrendous lack of landscaping on that project. Also, the site plan is ridiculous; the back of the houses show and this development is a trainwreck. This was in a high flood zone and it appears that the initial stormwater pond failed so where does all this water go? In Lake Lafayette?
Someone dropped the ball and horrendous projects like this should not be allowed.
If the yard-sign marxists are so virtuous, why don’t they simply open their homes to these less-fortunate?
yeah, that’s what I thought.
wanting the whole neighborhood to fall to decline, because they can’t get over their programmed guilt-complexes is pathetic.
Ouch a lot of loyal Biden voters in the area around the facility may be having second thoughts on their liberal all “D” all the time voting both locally and nationally. Thats what happens when the latest greatest liberal utopia vision comes to your own neighborhood.
It’s just fine when “others” have to feel the pain though.
By the way, Area Resident was correct – no DETAILS were included with the voice of the residents and businesses. It appears we are doing this on our own.
The facts that this was done in secret; that our elected officials knew but did not let the affected residents, schools, daycares and businesses know; and that there was no intention to keep it temporary is not making us feel like we can trust anything that we are being told. Not being transparent is a huge issue. Having sex offenders and sex predators move in a numbers is not OK.
With this Pandemic the government is taking their time helping and homes are being foreclosed on and apartments not beeing. Causing homelessness NAEH is a way to help and then you can find properties and those single with income can move in and apartments also. It doesn’t take this long to put someone in a place if they weren’t running a marathon trying to do unnecessary things that does not help or had the intention. https://www.wect.com/2021/01/13/wilmington-project-help-homeless-installs-first-tiny-house/
How are they able to pay for the Lease on that place as well as the Utilities?
Already the neighborhood around the building appears to be going downhill. I drive through there almost every day, and have noticed more panhandlers and people loitering around the vacant lots and bus stops along with an increased amount of trash in the area.
If not there, where? If not us, who will help? We have an obligation to help those who aren’t as fortunate and can’t hide their issues behind the veneer of respectability that is a front door. There need to be more facilities like this, not fewer, and near the so-called “good neighborhoods” so people aren’t concentrated in a small geographic area among permanent residents who are struggling themselves. The time for yard-sign activism is over. Put your money where your mouth is, folks. City Walk is willing to head this up. They have the experience. Imagine how good of a thing this could be if we all contributed what we could in time, talent or treasure. The opportunity is there to make a real difference, right here in our own backyard.
This was established without telling the surrounding neighborhoods anything!! This was a vacant office building and no permits for a shelter were obtained and no public comment has been taken!! The elected officials of the City and County continue to NOT talk with the neighborhoods and instead forward all requests for information from citizens to their subcontractor, City Walk and the Big Bend Continuum of Care. The headline says “temporary,” but as clearly stated in the article, this is the first step in a permanent facility that everyone except those who live closest to it knew!! i.e., “Leon County Commissioner Kristin Dozier confirmed that on Jan. 8, the BBCoC met with City Walk and discussed that in the long term, City Walk would like to expand and provide permanent and transitional housing and use office space for social services at the Mahan location.” Why was the neighborhood and nearby businesses not included in this and apparently several other meetings on these plans? Why are long-term, tax-paying citizens and businesses put in the position of having to push for answers to reasonable questions? The only outreach was a promotional Zoom call by City Walk and the Big Bend Continuum of care in reaction to an outcry for neighbors, many of whom have little children, who are very concerned about the many sex offenders registered at this facility, along with people who are active drug abusers, have violent felony convictions and with untreated mental illness. Why was the Leon County Sheriff’s Office, responsible for law enforcement for all citizens, on the call as one of the spokespeople FOR the shelter? Who is working for the citizens of the City of Tallahassee and Leon County???!!!!
I agree the unhoused need a safe and warm place to sleep. No argument there. Don’t think many would argue with that. However, the property owners and or renters need to feel safe in their homes and neighborhoods. When they have people wandering through their neighborhood, yelling and screaming at them, I guarantee they are feeling threatened. And this is happening. Their children should be able to feel safe to play in their yard. They don’t. They should be able to take walks in their neighborhoods or work in their yards without fear of being confronted by intrusive strangers. They don’t. I don’t need a tour of their facility. It’s not what they’re doing when they’re in the facility that concerns me. They have no control over what they do when they walk out the door of the facility.
Nothing from this article provides any information or details from the concerned residents or businesses. Leaving no one with the other side of the story.
From the article:”Residents have shown concern about the homeless shelter and reached out to local elected officials. Concerns from residents include the homeless population sleeping and loitering around businesses and neighborhoods near Mahan Drive as well as a registered sex offender residing within the shelter.”
Good! The unhoused need a safe place to sleep. The privileged folks in their warm houses can get over it.
This was done in secret without calling consulting the surrounding community. There was a community meeting 3 days ago and at that time there were 5 sex offenders and 2 sex predators registered at the shelter, less that 1000 feet from a day care and Governor’s park.