Homeless Problems in Downtown Delray

September 19, 2023

Does Delray Beach have a homeless "problem?"  Several people at the September 5th Delray Beach City Commission meeting seem to think so.  During the public comments section of the meeting, employees from Luna Rosa complained that they and their clients have been harassed by panhandlers.

One employee reported tents on the beach, public urination and verbal harassment.  She stated that she and her customers had to witness someone exposing themselves. Diane Bold, who used to be a police officer in St. Louis and now works as a supervisor server at Luna Rosa, said there has been a massive increase in vagrants and homelessness around the beach pavilion in the past six months. She suggested more police presence and more patrol for visual deterrence.  Other citizens came forward with public comments about the same problem.
This topic received further discussion during the Comments and Inquiries section of the meeting.  City Commissioner Adam Frankel, spoke about a public bench across the street from Lulu’s in Pineapple Grove which had to be removed because of the gatherings that took place there.  Frankel claimed that there is a video which shows one of the vagrants spreading feces on a mailbox. City Manager, Terrence Moore, said that they are addressing the problem now that the police department has full employment. They will take steps to increase the police presence at parks and beaches.

Chief Mager reminded the board that it is not a crime to be homeless, but violating the law or ordinances is. The department focused on the downtown Clean & Safe area made thirteen arrests from Tuesday 8/29 to Tuesday 9/5. The arrests were for drugs, alcohol, trespassing and COV (Crimes of Violence). The department wants to apply the same efforts at the beach as they have in the downtown.  Chief Mager noted that the relatively recent uptick in homelessness nuisances is likely due to clusters of the population being regularly dispersed only to have them cluster in new locations.  These clusters have inadvertently made their way east to the Pavilion.  Chief Mager said, “We are not picking on homeless people but targeting those people who are disobeying the law.”

According to Chief Mager, there are 104 homeless in Delray Beach, and that number has been stable over the last few years.  The Chief mentioned that there are 16 chronic homeless persons that account for the majority of the complaints and crime.  These are the individuals the department is trying to get out of the city.

Chief Mager believes that the solution lies in the combination of Road Patrol, Delray’s Clean & Safe Program and Community Outreach Program.  He urges citizens with concerns to call the police at 561-243-7800.  Citizens should call the police with these complaints rather than direct them to other city officials.

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