Neighbors recoil as homeless encampment appears on sidewalk in Pleasant City

Michael Cleveland - Homeless.jpg
As Michael Cleveland stands in his West Palm Beach drive way, homeless men can be seen napping on the sidewalk next door.{ } A large gray tarp, suitcases, plastic bags and cardboard are also visible on the walkway.{ } (WPEC)

A tent city of homeless people at John Prince Park near Lake Worth Beach continues to draw the attention of Palm Beach County leaders, grappling to find a suitable place for the inhabitants.

Now, a new, smaller encampment appears to be forming right on a sidewalk in West Palm Beach’s Pleasant City neighborhood.

Standing in Michael Cleveland’s driveway, looking to the east, one sees the sidewalk next door accumulating tarps, suitcases, plastic bags and cardboard.

Cleveland said the high concentration of items started showing within the past two weeks or so. Same for the people camping on the sidewalk around the clock.

When CBS12 News visited early Thursday afternoon, four people appeared to be sleeping on blankets and bedrolls or propped up against luggage.

“(The) community really identifies with the homelessness situation,” said Cleveland, who grew up in Pleasant City and is now president of the community’s neighborhood association. “But we feel now we’re being totally disrespected. When I walk out the door in the morning, it hits me in my face — urine, the smell of urine.”

More than a decade ago, St. Ann’s Place set up at the end of Cleveland’s block at the intersection of U.S. 1.

Each Monday through Friday, St. Ann’s Place provides a bag lunch, a place to shower, as well as help accessing health care and other services.

“Trying to get money for a Greyhound bus (to) take me to Atlanta, heading to Colorado too,” said Jaylen Bermudez, one of those sleeping on the sidewalk.

Bermudez said he’d been in town the past couple days and, at night, had been sleeping a few blocks away on the waterfront.

Another man on the sidewalk said he’s a veteran waiting on housing and St. Ann’s Place is helping him.

But Cleveland said since homeless people have been frequenting Pleasant City, he’s had trouble with people using the neighborhood to urinate and worse.

And now with the burgeoning sidewalk encampment, Cleveland said it’s getting worse.

“I can show you a spot right down there where somebody stood there and urinated just last night,” Cleveland said, pointing at his fence line. “We don’t want to tolerate it, we’re tired of it. They need to put some kind of porta-let’s out here. And then they move them during the daytime. And remove all the tarps.”

CBS12 News reached out to St. Ann’s Place, seeking comment, but the agency had not responded by early evening Thursday.

The City of West Palm Beach issued a statement, saying it’s committed to building 300 new affordable housing units and recently appointed a Homeless Services Coordinator, with on-street programs for those suffering from mental illness.