TAMPA (FOX 13) - It is one sentence and a photo. Early Monday morning, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn tweeted out, "How about being a good neighbor @TrinityCafe."
The post equally confused and enraged people. Many were quick to jump to the non-profit’s defense. One man writing, in part, "Not exactly a helpful tweet towards an organization that does so much for the community..." Another tweeted, "I can't possibly think of a better neighbor than a group of volunteers who prepare free meals every day for their neighbors in need."
FOX 13 News reached out to the Buckhorn for clarification. In a statement, he explained:
"These facilities and the clients they serve need to respect the surrounding neighborhood and not become a magnet for the types of behaviors that would deteriorate the quality of life for the hardworking homeowners that live there."
We checked in with Tampa police, and so far this year officers have been called out to the cafe 25 times. It's creating an uneasy coexistence with folks in the neighborhood, like Kelly Grimsdale.
"Trinity Cafe has never been a good neighbor to us, they have never listened to our concerns or acted on our concerns," Grimsdale said.
Speaking on behalf of the board members of the V.M. Ybor Neighborhood Association, Grimsdale says what Trinity Cafe does to help the homeless and hungry in Tampa is filling a critical need. The group's issue is the garbage, drugs and loitering the non-profit's guests bring to the area.
"What they're doing within their four walls is commendable and it's a much-needed service, but what it is attracting to our neighborhood outside those four walls is absolutely atrocious," said Grimsdale. "Chronic loitering, the sleeping on site, the defecation, the trash accumulation."
Trinity Cafe opened its Nebraska Avenue location in 2013 and serves hundreds of meals each day. Leaders were not available to comment on-camera, but in a statement they say they are working on the issue:
"Trinity Cafe has been actively engaging with our neighbors at every request in an ongoing effort to support a safer community. We need to work together for the betterment of our community and all the neighbors that live within it, those with homes or those without. Many of our guests live within walking distance of our locations. Many were once homeless and now have a home."
"Sometimes being served with dignity and respect can influence a life, for many Trinity Cafe is more than just a meal.As with any community in Tampa Bay we are all held to a lawful standard of behavior, Trinity Cafe guests are held to that same standard while on our property and are strongly encouraged to mirror that behavior throughout our neighborhoods."
Grimsdale is calling on Trinity Cafe to either offer more services to the homeless, or decentralize meals to multiple locations throughout Tampa so hundreds of people aren't in one neighborhood.
Trinity Cafe and Feeding Tampa Bay are merging next year, and leaders hope it will mean more ways to help.