It Is Cruel To Florida To Not Let Homeless People Sleep On Public Land

Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a law that moves homeless people off of Florida’s streets and into camps where they will be watched by police.

The law is too narrow-minded because it doesn’t take into account each person’s unique situation and doesn’t do enough to help homeless people with their many social, economic, legal, and health problems.

Starting October 1, House Bill 1365 says that homeless people can’t stay or sleep on public land. This bill is not a long-term answer because it doesn’t deal with the reasons why people are homeless.

One of the lawmakers who supports the bill says that HB 1365 lets local governments decide what, if any, criminal consequences to use against homeless people who break the law. Officials in the area need to think carefully about what will happen if they enforce this law. People who can’t get to a shelter or choose not to go are criminalized, which doesn’t protect their honor and lowers their value as a person.

In its work to end homelessness around the world, the UN says that the right to adequate housing should not be separated from the right to life, especially the right to live a life with respect. They say that the “criminalization of homelessness” takes away people’s basic rights.

The state of Oregon has brought a case to the Supreme Court in April. The court will decide if prohibiting homeless people from camping or sleeping on public land is “cruel and unusual punishment.”

The Court’s ruling will have an effect on situations where homeless people use public property for safety when there is no public shelter available. Because the Supreme Court case could change how cities and states deal with homelessness, Florida’s rule may need to be changed before it goes into effect.

In 2023, 30,700 people in Florida were expected to be homeless. This was the third-highest number of homeless people in the United States. California has the most homeless people in the US—49% of all homeless people in the US live there. Florida has the third most people in the union, and California has the most people of any state in the union.

Florida’s lawmakers saw homeless people as breaking the law and being an eyesore instead of as people who are struggling because they are poor. Being poor and without a home are not crimes; they are public health problems. For the average American, being homeless cuts their life span by about 30 years.

From an economic point of view, making people who are homeless illegal costs cities and towns money because they may have to pay for claims. A new law in Florida lets people sue cities or counties that let homeless people camp or sleep on public land starting at the beginning of next year.

For rural Florida, it’s very expensive to get the money and resources needed to build more homes and supportive care. These places don’t have to follow the law’s rule about public camping if they can show that doing so would be “fiscal hardship.”

Because this rule is being applied inconsistently across different jurisdictions, Florida’s homeless problem will be spread out more, forcing people to shelters in areas where “fiscal hardship” has not been proven. These problems with the law show that there isn’t a plan to help people get off the streets and start making money for themselves.

rules like HB 1365 are known as “out-of-sight, out-of-mind” rules by the US Interagency Council on Homelessness. Instead of helping people who are homeless, the focus should be on sending more people to prison to clean up public areas.

A lack of cheap housing is made worse by failed policies and programs that don’t get enough money, leaving homeless people on the outside. Investing should go to social impact organizations that offer living programs with job-readiness training, life skills classes, mental health services, and chances to get involved in the community.

Lawmakers are making things worse and trying to fix the problem with harsh and short-term answers. Instead, they should work on breaking the cycle of homelessness and finding long-term, compassionate answers to the many social, legal, and health problems that Florida’s homeless people face.

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