Fort Lauderdale Pushing for "Homeless Hate Laws," Advocacy Groups Say

Categories: Politics

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Fort Lauderdale is set to pass ordinances that would make an already difficult life for the city's homeless even more so.

During a public workshop in January, it was announced that the city planned to pass ordinances that would effectively ban groups from sharing food with the homeless and make it illegal for the homeless to store their personal belongings on public property.

This means that police would have the authority to confiscate a homeless person's possessions after a 24-hour notice and keep them in storage until the person either pays a fee or can prove that he has no means to pay that fee.

On Tuesday night, these ordinances will receive second readings at the Fort Lauderdale City Commission meeting. Homeless advocacy groups plan on marching before the meeting, into City Hall, to give voice to what they're calling "homeless hate laws."

See also: A Florida City Made It Illegal for Homeless People to Cover Themselves With Blankets

As they did for the first readings of the ordinances of April 15, members from groups like Food Not Bombs and Broward Homeless Campaign will get together at Stranahan Park, a park known to be a place where homeless people gather, before the commissioners meet.

"We want to meet an hour before the meeting and then march over to City Hall and remind folks about these ordinances and hand out fliers," Haylee Becker of Food Not Bombs tells New Times. "We're there to have presence on Broward Boulevard, letting the homeless know we're speaking out for them."

Aside from wanting to exclude the homeless from Stranahan Park, the ordinance calls for the confiscation of public property.

The ordinance would have police give a homeless person 24 hours' notice before they can then lawfully take away any personal possession stored on public property. Anyone wanting to retrieve his stuff must pay the city a storage fee. The fee would be waived if the homeless person can prove he can't afford it.

"It's just bureaucratic maneuvering by the city," Becker says of the fee being waived if it's proven a homeless person can't pay it. "It really comes down to harassment."

If the confiscated items are not retrieved in 30 days, the city can then dispose of them, according to the ordinance.

"These proposed ordinances run counter to Fort Lauderdale's plan to end homelessness," National Coalition for the Homeless Director of Community Organizing Michael Stopps said through a release. "Criminalizing homelessness has been tried before in your city and it hasn't accomplished anything other than jailing the homeless and costing taxpayers."

A big question in all this would be: What exactly makes for "possessions"?

One could argue it's more than just a blanket or books. It could be a pet or shoes. But the ordinance, the advocacy groups say, seems to be part of a national agenda to push homeless people out of sight, out of mind.

According to the Legislature, the reasoning behind the ordinance is the city of Fort Lauderdale's "interest in aesthetics."

Earlier this year, Pensacola had a similar ordinance in place for the sake of aesthetics in which it made it illegal for homeless people to cover themselves with blankets.

That ordinance was eventually repealed.

But could this personal property ordinance lead the way to that kind of law in Fort Lauderdale? The Pensacola ordinance seems extreme, but it started with the seedlings of "aesthetics."

Tuesday's rally is all about speaking up against this kind of extreme treatment of the city's homeless.

"We don't want to just speak at the meeting," Becker says. "We want to be a visible presence."

The "Homeless Hate Law" rally will start at Stranahan Park, located at 10 E. Broward Blvd. in Fort Lauderdale, at 5 p.m. The group then plans to march toward City Hall's
City Commission Chambers, located at 100 N. Andrews Ave., for the meeting, which begins at 6 p.m.

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21 comments
TAMERLANE
TAMERLANE

If you can afford to imprison citizens you can afford to house them.

If you can afford police to arrest them you afford social workers to treat them.

hhcocc1
hhcocc1

My name is John Young, and I have been a Homeless Advocate for over 30 years mainly in Florida, but do cover wherever our homeless are.  And I am also a Re-entry Advocate also.  My concern here is why would Ft. Lauderdale want to become known as a HATE CRIME CITY AGAINST OUR HOMELESS when they depend on tourist $$$$ to survive.  Has no one informed these city leaders that their city will now go onto a Nation Website declaring their actions against our homeless.  

It is evident that no one has informed city leaders what happened in Covington, KY year ago.  Or the million $$$$ suit the the City of Miami got hit with and lost as they had to pay six million dollars out.  They need to read about the famous "POTTINGER CASE." If they cannot locate a copy, I still have one and I may loan it to them.

anonymous
anonymous

i'm guessing i can predict with 100% accuracy which commenters actually live in downtown fort lauderdale and have to deal with this army of vagrants outside their residence on a daily basis, and which commenters live miles away, yet deem themselves qualified to lecture everyone about a homeless problem that exists in someone else's neighborhood

ralphpetrucci
ralphpetrucci topcommenter

Anyone denying that the VAST majority of homeless on the streets of Fort Lauderdale are mentally ill, prior and current criminals, drug addicts and alcoholics - is DELUSIONAL and also a danger to our city.

Rj Petrucci
Rj Petrucci

Or how about the laws would improved the quality of life for those of us who live in the downtown and beach areas. The other citys in Broward bus the homeless here you know. The homeless then wander into our neighborhoods. The majority of the homeless on the street are mentally ill or addicts - do the bleeding hearts want them in your front yard? If you all care so much invite the homeless to live with you.

Dan K. Alexander
Dan K. Alexander

Inside the contemptuous heart of the police, the homeless are much like feral cats. They both spray piss wherever they please, their nails are sharp, and if you start feeding them they will keep coming back for more. The ironic truth is that there is a huge - and growing - number of police officers who present more of a threat to our physical safety than the vast majority of houseless people. Hey Fort Lauderdale! Instead of making benevolence a crime, why don't you clean the very large plate of real crime you already have in front of you? It isn't like you've solved crime and can create new ones to topple. Finish your dinner before asking for seconds.

Ÿänn Hidalgō
Ÿänn Hidalgō

World is home, human rights are their wall, problems are all about life style & comfort... give them a million$ credited bank card for a change

NativeFloridian
NativeFloridian

Extremely disappointed with these pathetic comments...Criminalizing and stereotyping homeless individuals as "vagrants," "bums," and 'drunks' only makes you sound like a pompous excuse of a human. Do you really know what that person's story is? How and why they've found themselves on the low end of society? Do you think they enjoy feeling forgotten and overlooked? Some people seem to be so quick to make nasty judgements...Shame on you ! To sit here and question whether it is acceptable or not to offer food to someone living on the street. Or to ALLOW them to place the few belongings they own on the ground. To offer help, to say to them - you're just as valid of an individual as I am. Rehabilitation and assistance programs is what these people need, especially for those suffering from mental illnesses (which is the majority of homeless persons) not criminalizing them and throwing them into jail - its tax funded both ways, which do you think offers more of a solution?

Not to mention 1 out of 4 homeless individuals are veterans...Is this how we take care of our society? By marginalizing them more than they already are? Think before you make such a hateful judgement... because that person out there holding a dirty cup and begging for a dollar could be you, could be me, could be your aunt, brother, or cousin. It can happen to anyone.

Joseph LaMonica
Joseph LaMonica

How about not hating the homeless but aiding the homeless so that they can get their lives back and have a home. This fucking world is so fucked up!

anon
anon

if we don't do something to protect the vagrants and bums, pretty soon the entire fort lauderdale riverwalk is going to be overrun with families and tourists and people contributing to the local economy by patronizing local businesses and restaurants. we cannot allow that to happen. 

Karla Zamor
Karla Zamor

Can't even share food with the homeless? Really guys?

megahoboriffic
megahoboriffic

@ralphpetrucci  the real danger is idiots like you, ralph, who have been going along with the flow of mentally ill,"prior  criminals," and addict  being treated like they've broken a law for something they have no control over. 2 million people behind bars in america and the vast majority of them for these exact problems - but  that's still not good enough for cowards like ralph. 


having to see  one crazy, homeless vet really is enough to make someone question all the  bullshit our society is built on...better  make sure the FLPD keep those uncomfortable questions in the dark somewhere  eh. 

anon
anon

feral cats do not scare away families and tourists, causing locally owned businesses and restaurants to starve and die off due to lack of patronage. but nice try. 

redd
redd

@anon  Winner!!!



The reality is the homeless helpers are just enablers for homeless.


-it may feel good to give a vagrant a dollar, but would you give them a beer or vodka?  -That's exactly  what you are doing in 'most' cases.


The city and county are trying to reduce drug and alcohol abuse, by forcing the homeless to live in shelters.


Abusers don't want to give up their vices.  


and if nothing is done, the city will suffer, and so will the shelters.



I live in downtown for 8 years, in victoria park.  just down the street from the greyhound station.  in the winter is was a steady stream of new homeless arriving.  -and sleeping in the bushes craping and pissing there and leaving empty cans.


donate to salvation army.  


not these quazi help orgs...



ralphpetrucci
ralphpetrucci topcommenter

We do not want groups of the mentally ill and addicted wandering the streets infront of our homes -  it really is that simple. I have yet to see one homeless person wandering the streets of Fort Lauderdale that is not suffering from some sort of mental illness or active addiction. I have lived here for years.

redd
redd

Sure, in your kitchen you can do whatever you want.


take some in.  what could possibly go wrong?

megahoboriffic
megahoboriffic

@ralphpetrucci  well you're obviously a) not trying b) making a lot of assumptions and c) supporting laws that will do nothing to push those nasty poor people away from your ivory tower. 

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