Gov. DeSantis Pushes for Statewide Public Camping Ban to Remove Homeless from Streets

( – Monday February 5, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis held a press conference with Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Mark Glass in Miami Beach. The purpose was to discuss a new initiative that would ban public camping throughout the state. The bill was proposed by Fort Myers Republican Senator Jonathan Martin who said the aim of the bill is to help the homeless get the help they need, not to interfere with nonprofit homeless organizations.

In his speech on Monday, DeSantis says they have a vision for providing support for counties to provide more shelter options as well as more financial support for mental health and substance abuse programs. He talked about the terrible homeless problems he has personally seen while travelling around the country to places like San Francisco, New York City and Seattle. All three of those cities were recorded as having the highest homeless populations in the U.S. in 2022, with New York City’s homeless population coming in at 61,840.

The proposed measure would prohibit public sleeping or camping on public property without a permit but allow local governments to designate certain properties for sleeping or camping so long as they meet the standards set by the Florida Department of Children and Families. The standards would require a ban on alcohol or drug use on the property, as well as require them to provide running water, public restrooms, security and access to mental health and medical services. The designated properties would also not be allowed to be set up in places where they would adversely affect public safety or local property values.

Many homeless advocacy groups dislike such legislation as they say it criminalizes homelessness. Most advocate for what is referred to “housing first” initiatives. These focus on placing homeless people into permanent housing situations as quickly as possible without limitations on alcohol or substance abuse, and no restrictions based on criminal history. Critics of such measures usually object to higher costs, lack of accountability and the ability to sustain given there are no disincentives to continue behaviors that may have contributed to being homeless in the first place.

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