DeSantis Backs Efforts to Get Homeless Off Streets

DeSantis Backs Efforts to Get Homeless Off Streets

By Jim Turner, The News Service of Florida

TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday supported legislation that seeks to prevent homeless people from sleeping in public places such as streets, sidewalks and parks, as a Senate committee moved forward with the proposal.

“I think what we’re envisioning is providing some support for counties for additional sheltering, providing some financial support for both substance abuse (programs) and mental health,” DeSantis said during a news conference in Miami Beach, as he stood behind a podium that said: “Don’t Allow Florida to become San Francisco.”

“What we don’t want to see in the legislation is any incentive to create homeless camps, particularly in areas that would interfere with the public conducting normal business,” DeSantis added.

DeSantis’ comments came hours before the Senate Judiciary Committee backed a revised bill (SB 1530), proposed by Sen. Jonathan Martin, R-Fort Myers, that would give local governments the option to designate certain property for sleeping or camping if they meet standards set by the Florida Department of Children and Families.

The Senate proposal would limit to one year the continuous use of areas designated for homeless people and would require that the locations have access to such things as restrooms and running water, have security, provide access to health care and be deemed alcohol and drug free. Also, under the bill, the sites could not adversely affect values of nearby properties or safety.

Martin said the aim is to help homeless people get needed treatment, not to “step on the toes” of local not-for-profits. Also, he pointed to wanting to make sure public spaces can be enjoyed by taxpayers.

“The goal is to take people who have mental-health issues, who have substance-abuse issues, who are sleeping in public parks, public parks that we fund with a lot of money every single year here in Tallahassee, making sure those public parks and those public space are used for what they are intended,” Martin said.

The bill, which needs to pass the Rules Committee before it could go to the full Senate, also would encourage people and businesses to file lawsuits if local governments don’t follow the proposed rules.

Democrats questioned putting people into “encampments” rather than working to get them needed assistance.

Senate Minority Leader Lauren Book, D-Davie, called the proposal “a start” and suggested Martin discuss an approach to homelessness taken by the Miami-Dade Homeless Trust, which is chaired by lobbyist Ron Book, her father.

The trust works daily to build rapport with homeless people to determine assistance, Sen. Book said.

“I would suggest that some of the rhetoric out there that came out this morning, not turning Florida to San Francisco, that’s not where your true heart is with this.” Book told Martin. “This is really about making a difference for people experiencing homelessness.”

Sen. Gayle Harrell, R-Stuart, said she was stressed to hear opponents call the proposal a “roundup” and a “punishment,” as the locally designated locations would be “a safe place” where people “living in the woods” can get services.

The House version of the bill (HB 1365) has cleared one panel and awaits an appearance before the House Judiciary Committee.

Meanwhile, DeSantis used the news conference to also say the state remains on “stand-by” for calls for assistance from local law enforcement about spring break.

“You can come, but you’re not going to be able to do some of the things that have been happening,” DeSantis said. “And if that’s made very clear at the front end, I think it’s going to be much smoother for everybody.”

7 Responses to "DeSantis Backs Efforts to Get Homeless Off Streets"

  1. Are we going to have a free country or one that dictates how one should behave, where one should live, and by whose rules? “…Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.—Martin Niemöller” Are we talking about future internment camps? rc

  2. @ AMP = Maybe you can answer this question since no one else can. What IS considered Affordable Housing? I always get a Math Formula for an answer. I want a Price for an answer. When going by the Math Formula, there is no such thing as “Affordable Housing” for those below Middle Class, at least not without Government Money getting involved.

  3. I can remember when Tallahassee didn’t have a homeless problem. I can also remember when bat sheet crazy leftist politicians weren’t in charge of the city of Tallahassee. Get rid of the people running this three-ring circus and the homeless problem will follow.

  4. Hey Governor, here are my thoughts:

    You can pass all the Homeless Ordinances you want but, until you actually do something FOR the Homeless, the Ordinances will not work. Both the City and County Commissions have thrown big Money at this problem over the years and yet none of it went to actually trying to solve the actual problem to help the Homeless.

    You must first acknowledge that, to help the Homeless, you have to actually HELP the Homeless. We start by building a Gated Quonset Hut Community. Starting with Ten Quonset Huts and having room to expand to 20 with each measuring about 60×120 Foot. One is used as the Shower facilities that will also house the Laundry Facility, one will be used as the Kitchen and Dinning Hall, one used for the Offices and Classrooms with Internet while seven are used for housing, more can be added as needed. Yes, like an Army Bootcamp.

    The Quonset Huts are set up, side by side. You start with 10 to 20 acres of land, build a square -U- shaped Road to divide the property into three equal strips. The Activity Quonset Huts will be in the middle while the Living Quarters Quonset Huts will run down the outer parcels. We know the Community needs to be on a Bus Route therefor, there are few places to choose from to buy 10 to 20 Acres, that is why we should act fast before Developers snap it all up. I’m thinking Tram Road between South Monroe Street and Capital Circle.

    To maintain the Property and Buildings, Cooking, Cleaning, Grounds Keeping, Maintenance, you assign Jobs to those staying there that are able to do them. Doing this will give them time to get cleaned up, get the help they need and hopefully find a Job. It will also give them an Address so they can receive their Benefits, especially since many of them are Veterans. The hardest part of this project will be to keep the Commissions from over designing and over spending on it, there is no need to even do a Study on it. Simple and basic is all that is needed for this. 10 Acres could hold up to 30 Quonset Huts with plenty of green space between them and around them as well as the Interior Road and Parking. You are not building all 30 Quonset Huts at once, just the first 10 to start then expand as needed.

    My estimates come in at $750,000 for 10 Acres of Land, $300,000 for Fencing & Gates, $250,000 for each of the Seven Living Quarters Quonset Huts to be Built out and Furnished, $300,000 for each of the other Three Quonset Huts, $1,000,000 for the Road, Drainage and Sidewalks, $750,000 for Sewer, Water and Electric, $50,000 for Landscaping and $100,000 for Miscellaneous things for a Total of $5,600,000. These are just estimates from the research I have done. 50 People can be housed in each Quonset Hut for a total of 350 Total People in the first Seven Huts. The Plan is that, the majority of the Residents staying there are only going to be there about 18 to 36 Months until they get back on their feet and find Jobs and move out on their own.

  5. Perhaps those elected officials and their sidekicks who abuse taxpayers dollars would put in the sweat equity themselves to address the problem rather than abusing tax dollars to promote themselves 24/7 some progress could be made.

    And why are municipalities struggling? Because of the misuse of tax dollars and the fiscal irresponsibility. How many million$ for $tadium $eats?

    Crying foul that they are not given enough money is laughable. Once again, thanks for the laugh.

  6. Addressing the homeless population is a tough one. Half of them are probably mentally ill, and I’d never get angry at someone for having lupus, but damn it if it isn’t easy to get mad at someone who is half crazy and panhandling or littering sidewalks. The ones that are addicted to drugs probably aren’t going to stop using if we send out a few social workers, or cops. People like drugs.

    It would cost a ton of money to put them in prison and wouldn’t do anything to keep from just being homeless again once they got out.

    Florida is going to be a destination because our winters are easier to manage than most everywhere else.

    “The Senate proposal would limit to one year the continuous use of areas designated for homeless people and would require that the locations have access to such things as restrooms and running water, have security, provide access to health care and be deemed alcohol and drug free. Also, under the bill, the sites could not adversely affect values of nearby properties or safety.”

    So a community has to foot the bill for running water, security, health care access and policing for drugs and alcohol, but it can’t affect the nearby property values. I can see why they put that in there, but they seem pretty exclusionary; you can have a bunch of toilets and shelter for homeless people, or you can retain nearby property values. Not sure how you can do both.

    Even worse, it’s really just a way to allow citizens to sue cities and counties.

    ” A person or business may bring a civil action in an court of competent jurisdiction against any county to enjoin a violation of this section and may recover reasonable expenses
    incurred in any successful civil action brought pursuant to this section, including court costs, reasonable attorney fees, investigative costs, witness fees, and deposition costs.”

    I know the narrative here is that if Fathead and his cronies didn’t goto Amelia island that one time that there’d be enough money to give everyone in Tallahassee a new sports car, but the reality is that municipalities are struggling financially. They can’t hire enough people to do the work of the city (go look at the jobs section) because they don’t pay enough. They can’t raise money because everyone freaks out. But they’re supposed to solve the homeless problem, but making sure they don’t mess up, because then they’re going to get sued by some one. What municipality would set themselves up for these kinds of lawsuits? Where are they going to get the money to provide all of these services?

    ” Security present on site at all times. Access to behavioral health services, including, but
    not limited to, substance abuse and mental health treatment resources.”?

    With what budget?

    This is total and complete pandering.

    ““I think what we’re envisioning is providing some support for counties for additional sheltering, providing some financial support for both substance abuse (programs) and mental health,””

    Well, it must be all some psychedelic vision, because there’s nothing about providing any support for counties in the bill. At all. I mean, the thing all of 850 words long. Color me shocked that the Iowa participation trophy empty suit said some empty suit stuff to promote a meaningless bill.

    Mostly the whole thing just makes me sad.

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