Florida Governor Ron DeSantis Proposes Legislation to Ban Public Sleeping and Camping without Permit

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is advocating for legislation that would prohibit public sleeping or camping on public property without a permit.[0] The proposed bill, House Bill 1365, aims to ban unhoused individuals from sleeping on public property, with the exception of designated areas that do not impact property values or public safety.[1] If signed into law, the policy would prevent overnight camping or sleeping on public property such as streets, sidewalks, or parks.[2] Instead, cities and counties would be required to provide designated areas for the homeless, complete with running water, restrooms, and access to mental health services, while also imposing restrictions on drug and alcohol use.

Governor DeSantis expressed concerns about Florida turning into a city like San Francisco, where homelessness, drugs, and crime have negatively impacted the quality of life, economy, and freedom. He emphasized the importance of enacting policies that promote accountability and community safety, unlike those in California that he believes harm communities and the economy.

DeSantis pledged his support for the legislation, stating that he is working with the Florida legislature to combat homelessness.[3] He mentioned the possibility of providing funding for shelters and addressing mental illness and substance abuse as part of the initiative. The governor acknowledged that poverty and mental illness contribute to the issue of homelessness and expressed willingness to offer financial support to municipalities for shelters and mental health resources.

The proposed legislation would require city and county governments to enforce the ban on sleeping in public places.[4] It would also allow individuals or businesses to sue local governments that fail to enforce the ban.[5] Additionally, the bill permits cities and counties to establish government-run camps where homeless individuals can legally sleep.[6]

The bill has received both support and backlash.[7] Supporters argue that it will help maintain law and order and combat homelessness, while opponents believe it will do more harm than good. Some elected officials in Tallahassee expressed concerns that the legislation could have negative consequences.[4]

Recent data from Florida’s Council on Homelessness shows an increase in the number of unsheltered individuals in the state. In January 2023, there were approximately 15,706 unsheltered individuals, a 34% increase from the previous year.[8] The issue of homelessness is a growing concern in Florida, with the state’s homeless population estimated to be around 30,756 on any given night, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Governor DeSantis’s proposed legislation seeks to address this issue by providing designated areas for the homeless with necessary amenities and services. However, the bill’s effectiveness and potential impact on the homeless population and local communities remain subjects of debate. As the legislation moves through the Florida Legislature, further discussions and deliberations will determine its fate and the future of homelessness policies in the state.

0. “State needs more shelters if it wants to pass law to keep people from camping in public, residents living on streets say” WJXT News4JAX , 6 Feb. 2024, https://www.news4jax.com/news/local/2024/02/06/state-needs-more-shelters-if-it-wants-to-pass-law-to-keep-people-from-camping-in-public-residents-living-on-streets-say/

1. “DeSantis supports homelessness-related legislation banning “unauthorized Public Camping and Public Sleeping,”” Islander News.com, 7 Feb. 2024, https://www.islandernews.com/news/florida/desantis-supports-homelessness-related-legislation-banning-unauthorized-public-camping-and-public-sleeping/article_ec1bd01e-c5a8-11ee-bf6a-0fc14ff9f811.html

2. “Bill banning homeless camping moves step closer to DeSantis’ desk” WPTV News Channel 5 West Palm, 5 Feb. 2024, https://www.wptv.com/news/political/bill-banning-homeless-camping-moves-step-closer-to-desantis-desk

3. “Florida bill cracking down on public homeless camping passes House committee” Florida’s Voice, 7 Feb. 2024, https://flvoicenews.com/florida-bill-cracking-down-on-homeless-encampments-house-passes-committee-stop

4. “Tallahassee leaders speak out against legislation banning homeless from sleeping in public places” WCTV, 6 Feb. 2024, https://www.wctv.tv/2024/02/06/tallahassee-leaders-speak-out-against-legislation-banning-homeless-sleeping-public-places

5. “Florida Senate panel approves proposal that curbs sleeping in public” CBS Miami, 30 Jan. 2024, https://www.cbsnews.com/miami/news/florida-senate-panel-approves-proposal-that-curbs-sleeping-in-public/

6. “Florida could adopt new solution to homeless crisis: Camps” Tampa Bay Times, 5 Feb. 2024, https://www.tampabay.com/news/florida-politics/2024/02/05/florida-could-adopt-cutting-edge-solution-homeless-crisis-camps/

7. “Gov. DeSantis endorses bill to try and prevent homelessness” Yahoo News, 6 Feb. 2024, https://news.yahoo.com/gov-desantis-endorses-bill-try-163821754.html

8. “Get tough on homeless bill backed by FL governor” The Miami Times, 6 Feb. 2024, https://www.miamitimesonline.com/news/florida/get-tough-on-homeless-bill-backed-by-fl-governor/article_e39af040-c572-11ee-8ccb-67dab1ca4448.html

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