Activists Call Fort Lauderdale's Proposed Ordinances "Homeless Hate Laws"

Categories: Politics

Food_not_bombs.JPG
via Wikimedia Commons
Food Not Bombs distributing meals in Sarasota, which was named the worst place to be homeless in America in 2006.
Despite the warm weather, Florida is one of the worst places to be homeless in the country. Almost every year, the state gets ragged on by the National Coalition for the Homeless for being one of the "meanest" in the union. Cities like Miami, Sarasota, Pensacola, and St. Pete have been specifically targeted for either passing laws or getting litigious regarding the rights of their most disenfranchised residents.

Now Fort Lauderdale is gearing up to join the list of places that activists say openly discriminate against the homeless. On the agenda for tonight's City Commission meeting are two ordinances that, if passed, would effectively ban homeless people there from relieving themselves or owning personal property.

"It seems harmless on the surface, but they're part of a series of laws that criminalizes activities homeless people need to perform in order to stay alive," says Nathan Pim, a volunteer with Food Not Bombs.

In January, the City Commission released a draft of several possible ordinances that would affect the homeless. Among them was one that would ban food-sharing programs like Food Not Bombs. A similar ban occurred in Orlando in 2011, resulting in volunteer arrests, huge protests, and hackers threatening the city. It was eventually overturned.

Although the food-share ban is not up for discussion tonight, those protesting City Hall think it's clearly on the horizon if these "Homeless Hate Laws," as they call them, are passed. Fort Lauderdale politicians haven't been so kind to hungry homeless people in the past. In 1981, future Mayor Robert Cox famously suggested pouring kerosene into the city's dumpsters so that no one could eat food from them.

Food Not Bombs is pretty good at kicking up a shitstorm and seeing results after everything settles. In February, it helped overturn a controversial and short-lived ban on Penacola's homeless having blankets. In 2011, it orchestrated a reversal of the meal limit placed on Gainesville's homeless shelters.

Protesters will meet at 5 p.m. in Stranahan Park. They will then head to City Hall for the meeting at 6. The activists hope that if there's enough presence at the meeting, they can beat back these encroaching ordinances too, at least for a little while.

"These situations are never won," Pim says. "You have victories or losses, and then you try again."






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6 comments
pierresplace49
pierresplace49

Big Business and the government in Amerca created the homeless problem and now they seek to persecute these same disenfranchised individuals as criminals for their situation. This is the work of the rich that buy off politicians to create adverse laws for the society. There may be oppression of the people but history shows that it never lasts. So also will history repeat itself in this era.

reddingjeff9
reddingjeff9

Sarasota where a homeless Veteran can go to jail for sitting on the sidewalk but it is just fine for the government to obstruct sidewalks with street lamp posts. Sarasota has strange ethics. 


Please help us in the efforts to relocate the street lamp posts which obstruct the center of the Bee Ridge Road Sidewalk by visiting Change.org and signing our Petition.

http://www.change.org/petitions/move-the-street-lamps-completely-off-the-sidewalk

Thank you.

Jeff Redding
Lifetime Member, Blinded Veterans of Am

raindancer93
raindancer93

1. There are approximately 1.7 million homeless teens in the U.S.

2. 39% of the homeless population is young people under 18.

3. About 75% of homeless teens use drugs or alcohol as a means to self-medicate to deal with the traumatic experiences and abuse they face.

4. 5,000 young people die every year because of assault, illness, or suicide while on the street.

5. A U.S. Department of Health and Human Services study found that 46% of homeless youth left their home because of physical abuse. 17% left because of sexual abuse.

6. Approximately 40% of homeless teens identify as LGBT.

7. Over 50% of young people in shelters and on the streets report that their parents told them to leave or knew they were leaving and didn't care.

8. The average age a teen becomes homeless is 14.7 years.

9. 1 in 7 young people between the ages of 10 to 18 will run away.

10. Teens age 12 to 17 are more likely to become homeless than adults.

11. HIV rates for homeless young people are 2 to 10 times higher than reported rates for other samples of adolescents in the U.S.

Alison Williams Pinsley
Alison Williams Pinsley

I can't believe any city would pass this kind of law. Any one of us could be homeless through no fault of our own. Put yourself in their shoes, how would you feel if you were automatically hated because you are homeless?

anon
anon

if there's one thing downtown fort lauderdale needs more of, it vagrants and homeless bums. seriously, who wants to take their family out for a stroll on the riverwalk if there aren't any bums waiting to shout gibberish at you at every turn. you guys keep fighting the good fight.

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