Bill Prohibiting Homeless people From Sleeping In Public Passes The Florida House

Bob Self/Florida-Times Union

A bill passed by Florida House lawmakers on Friday prohibits homeless people from sleeping in public and requires local governments to fund homeless camps.

82-26 was the close vote in the Republican-controlled House for House Bill 1365. Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis supports the legislation as a way to “combat homelessness and keep Florida’s streets clean.”

FOX News reports,

The bill would bar cities and counties from allowing people to sleep on public property, including at public buildings and in public rights of way. The proposal would also allow local governments to designate certain areas for sleeping or camping if the locations meet standards established by the Florida Department of Children and Families.

These designated areas would have to include restrooms and running water, security and be alcohol- and drug-free. The sites, which could only be used for a year, must also not harm the safety or value of nearby properties.

“With no security, with no basic sanitation, with no access to behavioral health services for folks who have been ravaged by drug abuse and mental illness…the answer is let’s get a home for everybody,” Garrison said. “If we do nothing for these folks, that is unacceptable,”

Rep. Ralph Massullo, R, said the bill would start to clean up streets while at the same time providing safe shelters and mental-health services.

Democrat critics claim that without state funding, the bill would exacerbate local government costs and force homeless people into the woods.

Rep. LaVon Bracy Davis, D, said the bill attempts to criminalize homelessness while “bullying municipalities and counties into doing what we want them to do.”

“We must acknowledge that pushing the unhoused out of sight isn’t a solution. It is a failed attempt to sweep a societal problem under the rug,” Bracy Davis said.

Rep. Anna Eskamani, D, said lawmakers should prioritize “robust investments in transitional housing and shelters. But no, instead, we want to designate a location that’s probably going to be really hard to identify.”

Furthermore, the bill would allow residents and business owners to sue local governments for allowing illegal camping or sleeping on public property. Counties that would be financially disadvantaged may be exempt from some requirements under the proposal.

Bob Self- Florida Times-Union

Several amendments proposed by Democrats were rejected by the House on Thursday, such as denying access to perpetrators of domestic violence and lengthening the duration of the special housing areas for the homeless.

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