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Governor Signs Bill Banning the Homeless from Sleeping in Public Places; Measure Creates Homeless Camps

City homeless tents. Cold street. Generate Ai
nsit0108 -
City homeless tents. Cold street. Generate Ai

Florida - Thursday March 21, 2024: Governor DeSantis Wednesday signed HB 1365 into law. It forbids Florida cities and counties from allowing people to sleep or camp in public spaces. County governments will now be be required to ensure that homeless individuals receive mental health and drug addiction services while residing in a designated location off public streets and public property.

The new law takes effect on October 1.

“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 the Governor during a news conference in Miami. “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.”

“With a challenge as complex as chronic homelessness, it is all too easy to fall into the trap of comfortable inaction,” said Representative Sam Garrison. “In Florida, we will learn from the mistakes of cities like San Francisco, Denver, Los Angeles, and more which are paying the price for their unwillingness to act. This bill will not eliminate homelessness. But it is a start. And it states clearly that in Florida, our public spaces are worth fighting for. The status quo is not an option. In Florida we choose to act. It is simply the right thing to do.”

“Floridians have been working endlessly to address many of the issues associated with homelessness,” said Senator Jonathan 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.”

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 1365also 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.