Business owner: homeless in Ybor alleyways causing concern for development

Posted at 11:16 PM, Feb 02, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-02 23:16:20-05

TAMPA, Fla. — As business development grows in Ybor City, a local business owner wants more to be done to clean up an area now undergoing a major revitalization. 

Jennifer Needle and her husband joined a small uprising of shops drawing attention to Ybor City's west side. 

"This end of town is really up and coming," said Needle. "That was our whole goal, to bring families in here."

But since opening Mouse Trap Escape, located on North 14th Street, one year ago, Needle has faced a few stomach-churning moments. 

"We've encountered some homeless folks that have defecated in alleys for lack of facilities," said Needle.

Needle believes people with no homes shift from Ybor's bustling central district to alleys on the west end during overnight hours. 

"It has been a shock to us to realize what's going on at the 3 o'clock hour until maybe 8 o'clock when the buildings come to life."

Business owners in the area expressing a heightened concern this week after Tampa police arrested Ronald Cogman for a spree of vandalism. 

According to the arrest report, Cogman smashed out the windows of two buildings and allegedly through a brick through a car window. 

"I don't like to say that we're nervous about this, but we have to be more aware of our surroundings," said Needle. 

ABC Action News reached out to the Tampa Police Department about the issue. A spokesperson tells us they have not seen an increase in homeless in the area. 

"Our homeless liaisons routinely patrol that area, so they know firsthand who is in the area and whether the numbers are increasing. Also, we routinely meet with YCDC and business owners to see if they have any concerns," said Steve Hegarty, with the Tampa Police Department.