VM Ybor community says homeless are trashing Tampa neighborhood outside Trinity Cafe

Hoping for improvements outside non-profit cafe

TAMPA, Fla. — A workshop is set to discuss changes in the VM Ybor community. Some homeowners are extremely frustrated, saying homeless people are littering and loitering after getting free meals down the street. 

This has happened along Nebraska Avenue and complaints have made it all the way to city council. 

“Drug baggies, we’re constantly seeing little drug baggies, here’s a broken bottle of alcohol,” Kelly Grimsdale said.

The VM Ybor community is one Grimsdale is invested in. She moved in years ago and said, while it once appeared promising, now, it’s forgotten. 

“We, as a neighborhood, really feel like every city department has turned their backs on us,” Grimsdale said. “This would not be acceptable in any area of the city so why is it acceptable in VM Ybor?”

Grimsdale presented photos to city council. She said, more homeless people gather in the neighborhood, getting free meals from Trinity Cafe, which opened in 2013. They feed between 275 and 300 people in this location daily. 

“How are people going to survive without a meal? So that’s what we try to provide,” Cindy Davis, program director, said. 

Davis said, they’ve heard complaints from neighbors before, and they tell their patrons to not hang around and to use garbage cans. She said, the real problem is a lack of housing for the homeless. 

“I can’t affect what other people do, all I can do is request people not hang around, I can only affect what I do,” Davis said. 

She will attend a workshop set for February 22, along with the VM Ybor group and city council members. 

“We have to bring everybody together, all the agencies together, say let’s address this program, and see how we can relieve some of this pain and problems that these people are facing as a community, I wouldn’t want to live there,” Councilman Frank Reddick from district 5 said. 

Neighbors hope more can be done outside the cafe. 

“What they do inside their four walls is probably commendable, but what this has caused our community outside their four walls, that they refuse to take responsibility for is just unacceptable,” Grimsdale said. 

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