Homelessness on Treasure Island has become a problem that I can no longer ignore. Homeless people urinate on the now “Chamber of Commerce” building across from my home; the smell outside my door is beyond intolerable. It makes me proud to live in Treasure Island — such a beautiful paradise. Next, I try to take my dogs for a walk only to encounter homeless men sleeping in the bases of trees, doorways, and on properties that are unoccupied. My dogs are afraid, they want to protect me from these indigent people who happen to be everywhere I turn. After changing my dog walk route to avoid inadvertently walking up on one or more homeless people using the restroom on someone’s house, car, or in the bushes. Next, I get in my car to run some errands. Right there in front of God and everybody on Gulf Boulevard in plain sight of the police department (surely, they can see the homeless sitting on the sidewalk on Gulf Boulevard) is a group of three to six homeless men that seem to be there every single time I drive down Gulf Boulevard.

This is the heart of Treasure Island tourism; I am embarrassed the beautiful beach town that I live in looks like a slum. I am frustrated that the police seem to ignore the fact that the homeless are turning Treasure Island into a place that people are afraid to come back to next year. It’s not yet February but already I am hearing the travelers’ fears about returning to the area next year. Nobody wants to go on vacation and be afraid to take their child to the McDonald's for a Happy Meal because of the unsavory characters who lay around on the grass and sidewalk in front of the fast food chain. This problem will escalate to the point where Treasure Island is no longer desirable to visit. Currently, it is not very desirable to live here.

Susan Benincasa, Treasure Island