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Homeless must vacate Sarasota camp

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Belongings left in piles along Florida Avenue Belongings left in piles along Florida Avenue
The written warning follows a month of verbal warnings The written warning follows a month of verbal warnings
SARASOTA COUNTY, FL (WFLA) -

Many Sarasota residents have been complaining lately about a homeless camp set up near the Rosemary Cemetery along Florida Avenue.  This week, officers shut it down, and gave the homeless five days to get their things out.

Robin Cousino, who is homeless, said, "What everybody's got out here is their life. What they have in their bags is all they have ever."

For Cousino, her dog Remmy, and around two dozen others, the neglected area of Sarasota was home until Wednesday.

But neighbors and parents who drop their children of at the nearby Sarasota School of Arts and Sciences have complained to police about the camp. One parent told police a homeless man was recently urinating in public in view of children.

So on Wednesday, officers told the homeless there to move out.

Sarasota Police Chief Bernadette DiPino says belongings would be taken to storage facilities, if they're not claimed, and the department will help find new housing.

"Our approach is one where we will still be enforcing the law - that's our job - but we also know that just moving homeless people from place to place is not effective," DiPino told the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Police officers placed written warnings on tents and piles of belongings at the camp on Wednesday.  No arrests were made.

Vallerie Guillory, the executive director of the outreach group Trinity Without Borders, accompanied officers to the homeless camp.

"The officers are being very lenient," she said. "We're trying to find housing. The police are not just pushing people off the edge of the earth."

Homeless resident Darryl Arline said, "We have nowhere to go. There is no tent city."

Cousino said, "I don't have the money and I don't have the ways. I have a dog. I can't go to the Salvation Army."

Jake Brady owns a business along Florida Avenue. He is happy to see them go.

"[The camp] just looked like a big hangout," he said.

The homeless have until Tuesday to leave Florida Avenue.

"I'm not personally upset with the cops. I wish there was other things that could be done," said Cousino.

Robin Cousino has advocates trying to find her shelter, but nothing is certain yet.

"I guess we'll have to go back deep in the woods again, which I really don't like doing," said Cousino.

DiPino want to hire a civilian to help homeless people move into transitional housing and find resources to help the homeless cope with addiction or mental issues.

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