Tonight, Fort Lauderdale city commissioners will vote on two ordinances: one which that would ban camping downtown, and another that would ban panhandling in many city locations.
This past spring, the city passed an ordinance that allows police to confiscate homeless people's belongings, and another that strengthened a law against defecating in public. Commissioners have also said they want to more strictly regulate groups that pass out food to the homeless, and it's expected that such a law might be introduced this fall.
The laws have come as a response to the business community, whose members have complained that the presence of homeless people drives away customers. But advocates for the homeless say these measures amount to "anti-homeless hate laws," which make it difficult for the homeless to perform basic living functions such as sleeping and eating. The criminalization of homelessness is a trend that's happening around the country. (Pensacola this year briefly made it illegal for homeless people to have blankets.)More »