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Tampa neighborhood leader fed up with homeless cafe

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TAMPA, FL (WFLA) -

Cindy Davis feels like she just moved into a mansion. She's the program director for Trinity Cafe, an organization that feeds the homeless.

"It is a much bigger space," Davis said. "The other space was a little over 900 square feet this is almost 1800 square feet. It's a big difference."

The Cafe's served the poor from the Salvation Army on Florida Avenue since 2001. Recently they moved to Nebraska Avenue. Since Trinity Cafe opened, they've served more than 789,000 meals.

"We've worked long and hard," Davis said. "It's always been our mission to have our own spot."

But not everyone's happy about the move. In November before the opening the V.M. Ybor Association members told us they were not looking forward to new neighbors. The Cafe's been open for almost two weeks on Nebraska.

"So far it's been a lot quieter than I expected off the bat," Kelly Bailey, President of the VM Ybor Neighborhood Association said. "But we're already seeing an increase in homeless people showing up in the neighborhood, and showing up on vacant properties where we didn't see that before."

Laura McElroy, a Tampa Police spokesperson, says police have always monitored Nebraska Avenue closely.

"We've been checking that area even more since day one when the Cafe opened," McElroy said. "We've talked to the neighborhood leaders and have tried to take their input."

McElroy says the cafe has a 220 person capacity and has been running at about 200 people.

"Since the facility is bigger (than the former location on Florida) they don't have the problem of people loitering around as much to get inside," McElroy said.

Bailey says she expects it's going to get worse as the Cafe grows with popularity.

"We've worked so hard to make this a safe neighborhood," Bailey said. "We had no say in Trinity Cafe coming here. Now we have no say with more homeless coming to the area."

Bailey says she's contacted everyone she can think of to help the problem. Cindy Davis told us most people in the area have been welcoming.

"I just really hope and pray the folks opposed to us being here are never in the position where they need a meal," Davis said. "But if they are we're here for them."

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