South Tampa residents concerned local food pantry is doing more harm than good

Hillsborough County

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — People in South Tampa are concerned about the food pantry outside the Gandy Civic Center on Oklahoma Avenue.

Carlyle De Vore lives across the street from the pantry, and while he understands the need for it, he has concerns.

“People getting into arguments and fights in front of my property and when I come out to see what’s going on the verbally threaten me with physical harm,” he described.

“I’m not saying don’t feed the people. I’m just saying there’s got to be a better place than right here in this neighborhood, where they know it’s a history of homeless people living beside the building and taking advantage of the neighborhood,” De Vore said. “Move the pantry somewhere out in the open that doesn’t affect the neighborhood and so that everyone can have easy access too.”

Shawn Brown, director of the Gandy Civic Center, told 8 On Your Side they’re adding security measures to keep people from hanging out on the property.

He said the food pantry wasn’t to blame. There’s a homeless camp living along the railroad tracks behind the civic center that’s been there longer than the food pantry.

But De Vore says the camp started growing once the food pantry opened.

“Usually it’s like one or two groups that live here. But since they set up the pantry program I’ve seen like eight or nine groups that are taking up residency along the railroad tracks or behind the facility,” De Vore said.

Councilman Bill Carlson told 8 On Your Side that the city received two complaints about the homeless camp last year, and that code enforcement was working to find a solution.

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April 24 2021 08:00 am

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