Homeless being told to move off of land they've been camping on for years in Stuart

Posted at 7:34 PM, Jan 19, 2017

The Martin County Sheriff's Office has the job of evicting 30 people from the land they've called home for years. A property owner is selling 60 acres of land homeless people have camped on in Stuart for years. The property owner allowed campers to stay on his land, but now that it's being sold, they all must move.

Deputies spent the day Thursday telling campers they needed to be off of the property by Friday.

"We're not out here to try to arrest anybody or cause any harm to people anything like that," said Deputy Buddy Sprott. "We've got multiple resources trying to help these people get back up on their feet if they are willing. Making an arrest is an absolute last resort."

"When I pulled up here seen all the cop cars I freaked out," said one homeless woman who goes by the name of Shorty. "Homeless people don't like cops, because it means trouble. But Buddy and his team, they seem like they genuinely care. And that's what we need, because normal people don't care."

The deputies shared options with Shorty and others living in the woods and even brought employees from the county's Department of Health and Human Services, offering to help them find temporary places to live.

"People get really overwhelmed and frustrated, and they kind of say you know what the system is against me, and it's easier for me to live in the woods, when in fact, they just kind of need a case manager who is familiar with their individual circumstances, who can point them in the right directions, give them the goal, the plan," said Anita Cocoves, Martin County's Health and Human Services manager.

Shorty says she was given an entire list of options for help.

"Hopefully if I play my cards right and do the programs and everything that I have options to now, everything will be alright," she said.

Deputies said they'll have to start handing out trespassing warnings to anyone who doesn't move after Friday.