This Week in the 904: Bill sponsor to prevent homeless people from public sleeping speaks with ANJ

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill designed to prevent homeless people from sleeping in public.


The bill will prevent cities and counties from allowing people to sleep on public property. It would allow local governments to choose certain properties for sleeping or camping if they meet D-C-F standards. It would allow business owners to sue the government if it doesn’t do a reasonable job of limiting homeless encampments on public property.

Critics worry the bill will increase local government costs and drive homeless people into the woods.

A report from the Florida Council on Homelessness released last June said over the past five years, Florida has seen a 9% increase in homelessness.

The bill’s sponsor, State Representative from Clay County Sam Garrison, told Action News Jax John Bachman this week that this is an effort to protect public spaces--like libraries, parks, and sidewalks in front of small businesses from long-term encampments.

This law does not come with specific funding.

Bachman asked Garrison about that, “How do you propose cities and counties pay for some of these encampments? If that’s what they decide they need to do?”

Representative Garrison said, “Money follows vision.  I mean, it’s it’s about priorities from a certain standpoint. You know, the state certainly has a standard or a role to play in that in the last two years, we’ve increased tenfold, the resources, the financial resources, we give in terms of challenge grants to homeless communities, folks assisting in homelessness for shelter, additional shelter space around the state. So we’re doing our part as a state, but certainly, we’re not doing 100% This is primarily a local issue.”

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Bachman also asked Jacksonville City Council President Ron Salem how the city would pay to take care of the homeless who set up camp in public areas.

“How is the city prepared to handle this new law?”

Council President Salem said, “I set up a special committee of the City Council on Homelessness, chaired by Joe Carlucci. They have identified a permanent funding source for homelessness. So I want to meet with the mayor and get her thoughts on this. But we need to start planning because my understanding is October 1 is D-day for this.”

Bachman covered a lot of ground with both leaders. Council President Salem talked about the recent $147 million federal grant for the Emerald Trail. That whole conversation will air this Sunday morning on Action News Jax.  Bachman’s interview with State Representative Garrison covered a wrap of the legislative session.

That conversation will air the following Sunday morning on This Week in the 904.

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