Florida Lawmakers Pass Bill Banning Public Sleeping For Homeless People

The Republican-controlled Florida House of Representatives enacted legislation aimed at preventing homeless individuals from camping in public spaces.

Florida lawmakers approved HB 1365 by an 82-26 vote along party lines. It forbids counties and municipalities in the state from “authorizing or otherwise allowing public camping or sleeping” on public land. The law also includes financing for homeless shelters and designated spaces for people to dwell in. These locations would need to have running water and access to amenities like restrooms, as well as be alcohol and drug-free.

In 2022, Florida had the third-highest homeless population in the country, with approximately 26,000 people experiencing homelessness on any given night, according to the Annual Homeless Assessment Report.

Republican state representative Sam Garrison introduced legislation that has already received backing from Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.

According to Florida’s Voice news outlet, Rep. Garrison’s bill addresses chronic homelessness by prohibiting public sleeping or camping on public property or rights of way, while also providing secure, safe areas for those in need.

“This is not a bill meant to keep individuals out of sight, out of mind. According to Garrison, the situation is precisely the reverse (source: Fox News).

“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.”

During the debate on the House floor, Democratic Rep. Anna Eskamani wondered if a homeless person could be prosecuted if they chose not to stay at state-approved sites.

“Our bill does not specify criminal punishments. “We leave it up to local jurisdictions to decide what is the best way to address the problem,” Garrison explained.

The House rejected Democratic amendments to the bill. These included one to keep homeless parents and children together, and another to prohibit perpetrators of domestic violence from entering specified shelters.

In February, DeSantis expressed support for curbing public homelessness in Florida to prevent the state from becoming like San Francisco.

“It’s got to be done in ways focused primary on ensuring public order, ensuring quality of life for residents, ensuring that people’s property values are maintained, and ensuring that businesses are able to operate,” DeSantis said at a press conference on Feb. 5.

After passing the House, HB 1365 now goes to the Senate for approval. If it passes through the upper chamber, the measure will take effect on October 1.



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