Florida House Passes Bill Creating Homeless Camps, Banning Public Sleeping

Florida House Passes Bill Creating Homeless Camps, Banning Public Sleeping

A bill banning public sleeping and creating homeless camps faces backlash over economics

Liv Caputo
Liv Caputo
March 1, 2024

TALLAHASSEE, FL—The Florida House has passed a Republican-led bill banning sleeping on public property and requiring local governments to fund homeless camps, leading Democrats to claim this will criminalize homelessness and lead to economic dependency on the federal government.

"The status quo is not acceptable," Republican Rep. Sam Garrison, HB 1365's sponsor, said on the House Floor Friday morning. "When it gets to a point where the problem exceeds the resources to address it, the cost of dealing with it on the back end is inevitably 10 times what it would be on the front end,"

"An ounce of prevention truly is worth a pound of cure."

These homeless camps must provide sanitation, 24/7 security, and mental health services, as well as be completely drug-free. The camps are designed to lessen the state's homelessness crisis, with Florida having the nation's third-highest homeless population with 25,959 people counted in 2022.

Democrats raised economic and humanitarian concerns with the bill, pointing to the fact that the unfunded mandate would require local governments to become "dependent" on the federal government for grant money to run these camps.

"I don't think it's appropriate to preempt what local government options are and to basically create a rock and a hard place where approving one of these encampments will be close to impossible, and those that are housing insecure will be criminalized," Democratic Rep. Anna Eskamani said, claiming that the bill's lack of enforcement provisions will make it difficult for police to comply with the measure.

For two months during the pandemic, Tampa attempted to designate a two-month homeless camp for individuals on the street. The city told FOX 35 it costs roughly $60,000 monthly for every 100 homeless people, meaning that at about $600 per tent, that's $720,000 a year.

The bill is supported by Gov. Ron DeSantis, who sees it as a way to "combat homelessness and keep Florida's streets clean." He added, "We're not going to let Florida become San Francisco where homeless are everywhere." As of 2022, San Francisco had a homeless population of nearly 8,000.

"With no security, with no basic sanitation, with no access to behavioral health services for folks who have been ravaged by drug abuse and mental illness...the answer is let's get a home for everybody," Garrison said in his close on the bill. "If we do nothing for these folks, that is unacceptable,"

"[The bill] is not perfect. It's not going to eliminate homelessness. But it is a start to do something different," He added.

In an 82-26 vote, HB 1365 passed the House Floor. Its Senate companion will reach the Floor on Monday. If the legislation passes both chambers and is signed into law, it will take effect on October 1.

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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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