Florida refuses to allow the homeless to turn their state into San Francisco or LA

Photo by Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Flickr, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Homelessness isn’t just a problem in places like New York and San Francisco.

But the solution isn’t allowing people to put a tent up on a public sidewalk and let people use the bathroom in public streets.

Now the state of Florida has finally put its foot down and passed a new law to deal with the homeless crisis there.

Florida bans homeless encampments

A new bill designed to deal with the homeless problem in the state was just signed into law by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.

The legislation, called the Unauthorized Public Camping and Public Sleeping Bill, or House Bill 1365, bans homeless encampments and drug use in homeless shelters.

The bill passed the House 82-26 on March 1 and passed the Senate 27-12 on March 5.

It requires homeless people to stay in temporary shelters monitored by law enforcement agencies and gives residents and businesses the ability to sue a city or county that allows unauthorized camping by people on public property, which includes parks and sidewalks.

All homeless shelters must strictly prohibit the use of drugs on their property and must now provide drug and alcohol treatment as well as mental health treatment as needed per the new law.

Additionally, when homeless shelters reach capacity, the state’s Department of Children and Families must provide people with alternatives.

At a news conference in Miami Beach, DeSantis said, “Florida will not allow homeless encampments to intrude on its citizens or undermine their quality of life like we see in states like New York and California. The legislation I signed today upholds our commitment to law and order while also ensuring homeless individuals have the resources they need to get back on their feet.”

State Rep. Sam Garrison (R-Fleming Island) sponsored the bill and said, “In Florida, we will learn from the mistakes of cities like San Francisco, Denver, Los Angeles, and more, which are paying the price for their unwillingness to act. This bill will not eliminate homelessness. But it is a start.”

Garrison added, “And it states clearly that in Florida, our public spaces are worth fighting for. The status quo is not an option. In Florida, we choose to act. It is simply the right thing to do.”

Democrats say the bill makes it “difficult” for the government to address the crisis

Not everyone in Florida agrees with the new bill, including State Rep. Anna Eskamani (D-Orlando).

Eskamani voted no, explaining that she feels it “makes it incredibly difficult for local governments to address the homelessness crisis in our state.”

“This is a crisis, but instead of empowering local governments, we are making it more difficult for them to respond via preemption. I am concerned that the requirements in this bill will push those who are unsheltered deeper into the shadows, versus allow[ing] them to access the help and support they need,” she said.

However, DeSantis says the new law provides “wraparound services,” including mental health care, and it “will help maintain and ensure that Florida streets are clean and that Florida streets are safe for our residents.”

Informed American will keep you up-to-date on any developments to this ongoing story.