Proposed Location for Homeless Shelter Lacks Transparency

by Cynthia Harris
Candidate, City of Orlando Commissioner – District 5
Guest Column

harrisourm1Here we go again! We have been down this road before! Fred Clayton, Buddy Dyer and the City of Orlando have once again decided to intrude on the Black Community. Fred Clayton, who runs the Orlando Union Rescue Mission, stated that he wanted be a good neighbor, but all he has been is a “Good Bully” along with his Buddy John Dyer! The Mayor wants to make the Prime Real Estate in the Parramore Community a free-for-all for his friends, and in this case specifically, the Orlando Magic. Where is the “magic” in a team that has no die-hard community support? You don’t have a Community of Loyal fans that will be there until the end of time. Why? Because we can’t afford the Magic. No one wants to pay $10-15 for nose-bleed seats where the players appear to look like ants, pay $10 for beer and popcorn and then another $20 for parking. Factor in a family of four, this is easily $200-250 and to top it off we watch them lose.

Now, to allow the Orlando Magic to build an entertainment complex, the Mayor and Fred Clayton are trying to force a third proposed location for OURM without involving the community and without any transparency.

District 5 has long been the dumping ground for the city’s undesirables, parolees and halfway house refugees, industrial and commercial outcasts, and home to NIMBY rejects from elsewhere in the city. At the same time, Fred Clayton and the Corporate Rescue Missions that are nationwide want to be a part of the problem, collecting donations and tax dollars while using the demographics of the homeless for their own personal gain.

Then here comes Fred Clayton who says he lives here too – in the Black Community. Well Fred doesn’t live in Parramore or any residence in District 5. He along with the rich board members who live in well to do areas have the peripheral blinders of I-4 and the 408 so they don’t even have to look at the Black community while traveling to any of the many shelters that are ONLY in the Black Community.

Lately we have turned into a little Chicago with reports of increased crime and murder in the last three months. Fred decided to partner with residents in the Parramore community with a so-called Beautification Day clean-up. Why are the residents of District 5 cleaning up trash and debris that is the responsibility of the City of Orlando? Our tax dollars fund street and trash clean up, it’s like double-dipping on our dime and the people who are paid to do this work sit back and relax like Br’er Rabbit. Meanwhile the residents are fooled into cleaning trash and the City of Orlando just supplies trash bags and water. That’s a pretty good deal in exchange of taxpayers’ dollars plus free labor. Pretty slick if you ask me.

Well, it all sounds good when you say it real fast. Fred Clayton and the City, who both want to hoodwink stakeholders about solving the city’s homeless problems, must not have heard residents when they balked at the proposal to move OURM last November.

What’s more ironic, this new site on West Colonial will not solve the homeless problem. In fact, the proposed new Orlando Union Rescue Mission in the old Parkwood Inn Hotel located on West Colonial that Regina Hill and the Mayor want, will remove homeless families living on the edge of Parramore and sprinkle them around District 5. The hundreds of homeless people living on the streets, or in their cars, or in hotels and motels will still be homeless and the 6 million dollars given by Florida Hospital two years ago to combat homelessness will sit in the bank collecting interest.

Had the mayor’s office enlisted the community’s help to find a location, they would have quickly realized what a bad site it was — and they would have had an army of residents helping them find a more suitable location.

We the residents of District 5 want housing first! Shelters are a temporary bandage and if you insist on having Shelters, why have you not considered equal distribution in Districts 1-4? If the sentiment around the city is NIMBY, why should we have them in ours?

Cynthia Harris successfully fought against the Orlando Union Rescue Mission’s previous two proposed locations. Harris is currently running for City Commissioner in Orlando’s 5th District.


  1. Thank you Miss Harris for standing against this racism. It is still a crying shame that we are still fighting this battle which is hundreds of years old. The idea that they cannot see their bigotry is a slap in the face of every person of African desent. How can they be so blind to this persecution?

  2. Well when Regina Hill is your commissioner in District 5 your dealing with a Puppet of the Mayor. Foreclosure/Drug arrest she is a joke for the district and would not dare go against the mayor because they have dirt on her. She will not fight for District 5. And they will do everything they can to push black community out of Parramore and farther west away from Soccer stadiums and Magic—Cause it doesnt look like what they want it to look like. Just look at the way they take care of West Colonial Now…If its west of JYP its a joke..Looks like a crime scene..Great article–Too bad no one cares about it like you do from City.


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