Bulldozers sweep through Stanahan Park, displacing homeless population

Homeless in area given vouchers for shared hotel rooms

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – With no warning, the bulldozers arrived Friday night in Stranahan Park.

Dozens of homeless men and women watched as their belongings were thrown away. Others had their property placed in blue garbage containers for later pickup after Fort Lauderdale and Broward County officials cleared them from the park following a citation from the health department for rodent infestation in the area

"I felt violated. I felt that my rights were taken away from me," Bee Great said.

Lisa Robinson was among those driven from her makeshift home.

"Sometimes, the shelter doesn't have any room for us, so that is the only place you have to stay," she said.

On Monday, morning Robinson she was eating breakfast at the Rodeway Inn where she is one of roughly 45 displaced people who accepted vouchers from the county to share 20 rooms at the hotel.

"It was a raid and their property was summarily destroyed," Robinson said.

Alex Johnson, the president of the Broward Civil Liberties Union was at the hotel taking statements for what he says is likely legal action against the city for violating its own ordinances requiring 24 hours’ notice before confiscating belongings and 36 hours’ notice when clearing homeless from public places.

"No notice was given whatsoever," Johnson said.

The city, which has been trying to rid the park of homeless people for years, said it was a health emergency. Homeless advocates note the rats had been there for years.  

"The question is if this is a manufactured emergency and not a real emergency," Johnson said.

Whatever the truth, those in the hotel say they have no idea what will happen when they check out of the hotel at the end of the week.

"Just trying to figure out what we're going to do when we have to leave," Robinson said. "We're stuck, basically."