Florida Gov. DeSantis Signing HB 1365 (File)

Florida Gov. DeSantis Signs Bill Targeting Issues With Homelessness In The State

Florida Gov. DeSantis Signing HB 1365 (File)
Florida Gov. DeSantis Signing HB 1365 (File)

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has signed HB 1365, legislation that compels counties to guarantee that homeless people receive the mental health and drug addiction services they require while living in a designated site away from public streets, with a focus on public safety.

“Florida will not allow homeless encampments to intrude on its citizens or undermine their quality of life like we see in states like New York and California,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “The legislation I signed today upholds our commitment to law and order while also ensuring homeless individuals have the resources they need to get back on their feet.”

On March 6, the Republican-controlled Senate voted 27-12 along party lines to pass HB 1365, which would bar cities and counties from allowing people to sleep at places such as public buildings and in public rights of way.

Read: DeSantis: If Haitians Land In The Florida Keys, Their Next Stop Very Well Be Martha’s Vineyard

Senate sponsor Jonathan Martin, R-Fort Myers, said the goal of the bill is to provide safer locations for people than sleeping at places such as parks or under overpasses and pavilions.

“Floridians have been working endlessly to address many of the issues associated with homelessness,” said Martin. “Many groups from government agencies to non-profits have seen their employees and valuable resources spread thin while helping our homeless neighbors. This bill allows us to take a major step forward by providing a framework for these groups to more efficiently, safely, meaningfully, and effectively serve our neighbors. Further, it returns our parks, sidewalks, and public spaces to their intended uses for all to enjoy.”

But Democrats argued the state would provide limited resources to local governments to carry out the measure, potentially exposing the local governments to lawsuits.

Sen. Shevrin Jones, D-Miami Gardens, said the measure is “literally reshuffling the visibility of unhoused individuals with no exit strategy for people who are experiencing homelessness.”

“I understand that this bill does not make it illegal for people to sleep in public places,” Jones said. “But rather, it appears to make it illegal for local governments to ignore people sleeping in public.”

Read: Florida AG Moody Slams Prosecution Of Trump As Partisan Persecution “With One Man In Mind”

Under HB 1365:

  • Homeless individuals are prohibited from camping on city streets, sidewalks, and parks—and instead placed in temporary shelters monitored by law enforcement agencies.
  • The state of Florida has the enforcement tools needed to ensure local governments comply.
  • Homeless shelters will require occupants to not use drugs.
  • These shelters will also include substance abuse and mental health treatments. 

HB 1365 also provides alternatives for when homeless shelters have reached max capacity.

  • It directs the Department of Children and Families to authorize temporary campsites that do the following:
    • Maintain sanitation, including access to clean and operable restrooms and running water.
    • Provide access to substance abuse and mental health treatment resources through coordination with the regional managing entity.
    • Prohibit illegal substance use and alcohol use on the property and enforce this prohibition.

Help support the Tampa Free Press by making any small donation by clicking here.

Android Users, Click To Download The Tampa Free Press App And Never Miss A Story. Follow Us On Facebook and Twitter. Sign up for our free newsletter.

Login To Facebook To Comment
Share This: