Florida Working on Controversial Legislation to Manage Unhoused

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After Florida legislators advanced several bills that would ban people experiencing homelessness from sleeping in public places, Governor Ron DeSantis endorsed an unorthodox strategy to deal with the issue. Although the legislation “is still a work in progress,” he endorsed putting unhoused people in designated camps with security, sanitation, and access to behavioral health services. “It’s got to be done in ways that is focused primarily on ensuring public order, ensuring quality of life for residents, ensuring that people’s property values are maintained,” he said.

As usual, the suggestion has detractors and advocates. Many Democratic lawmakers and homeless advocates believe this approach would lead to more arrests and wouldn’t conform with federal best practices like Housing First, which promotes transitional or permanent housing to get people off the streets. A Texas think tank prefers tent cities over permanent housing, providing the camps get set up in locations that do not “adversely and materially” affect nearby residential or commercial properties. Ongoing discussions refer to this “Florida model” as an attempt to get local governments involved in helping people experiencing homelessness while keeping them off public spaces.

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