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Homeless camp in Ocala torn down

Published: Feb. 5, 2021 at 6:03 PM EST
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OCALA, Fla. (WCJB) - Dozens of people in Ocala have been displaced following the city’s decision to close an unofficial homeless camp.

City leaders say the decision was made as a result of a recent stabbing there, as well as reports of drug sales and abuse. They say they provided residents a 24-hour notice to vacate before beginning to tear down the encampment Friday morning.

Curtis Jones, a pastor for an outreach ministry that works with the homeless, says the city’s decision to uproot these people without a plan for them is unacceptable.

“These people don’t have a place to go. And I’m saying shame on you Ocala, I don’t know who’s responsible exactly, you know who you are. I’m just going to say shame on all of you guys. You should have, by now, come up with some type of process or something for these guys, these women, these children to be able to migrate to.”

“There’s money, there’s billions of dollars being spent downtown, all around Ocala. You’re telling me, you couldn’t take a quarter of a million and buy maybe a couple of acres and let them put their tents out there? C’mon man. Shame on you for kicking them out… a tent, that’s in the woods, during this pandemic time and when it’s freezing.”

City leaders say that shelter beds were reserved for those who were interested and that outreach personnel have offered to refer people to other available resources.

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