Bill Banning Public Sleeping Allows for Homeless 'Camps' to be Constructed

Bill Banning Public Sleeping Allows for Homeless 'Camps' to be Constructed

A new bill dealing with homelessness led to worries about "special camps" and negative fiscal impacts

Liv Caputo
Liv Caputo
January 29, 2024

TALLAHASSEE, FL—A new bill would prohibit sleeping on or in public property, providing instead for locally-funded "camps" for the homeless. The bill faced strong opposition, with critics claiming the bill would exacerbate, not address, homelessness.

"One of the greatest challenges facing our nation is chronic homelessness," SB 1530's sponsor, Republican Sen. Jonathan Martin, said in Monday's Senate Committee on Community Affairs. "It would allow the city to designate specific areas for public sleeping or public camping. Instead of criminalizing the homeless, this bill authorizes individuals and businesses to seek a private right of action against cities or counties that do not follow the law,"

SB 1513 prohibits individuals from sleeping in or on public buildings, requiring they obtain a permit if they wish to do so. It continues, telling local governments who allow public sleeping to set up a homeless camp. The camp must be located in an area that does not cause a value degradation to nearby properties, and must be complete with sanitation, security, and mental health services.

Democrats joined social justice groups in their opposition to the legislation, stating fears of exacerbated homelessness, poor fiscal planning, and potential danger that may exist within the proposed camps.

"This bill says that if a local government wants to allow public sleeping, they have to round up people and put them into special camps—which doesn't sound like a place where good government policy starts," The policy director for the SPLC Action fund said in public testimony. "Unfortunately the bill doesn't carry an appropriation with it—I'm not sure how any city or county will be able to budget—especially by the bill's effective date—for what must be an immense cost to do all of these things,"

Democratic Sen. Rosalind Osgood talked about her own experience with homelessness and how unsafe one of the proposed camps would have sounded to her, stating, "I would have never have taken my kids and gone to a homeless camp, out of fear of being raped and just the mixture of people there,"

In closing, Sen. Martin recognized flaws within his bill, but stressed that immediate action is necessary to address the homeless crisis. "I have tons of stats that show over ten thousand people in Florida live unsheltered, hundreds of deaths for those individuals in 2020. This is a mental health crisis, it's a drug crisis, we've got to do better,"

"Nothing is perfect, but we've got to start somewhere; we've got to start to get a handle on how to help people. The current situation does not work," He continued, explaining that if action isn't taken soon, then it is "going to be even worse next year when we try to address this problem. Lives will be lost,"

The bill passed committee down party lines, and will head to the Judiciary Committee.


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Liv Caputo

Liv Caputo

Livia Caputo is a senior at Florida State University, working on a major in Criminology, and a triple minor in Psychology, Communications, and German. She has been working on a journalism career for the past year, and hopes to become a successful reporter after graduation. Her work has been cited in Fox News, the New York Post, and the Daily Mail

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