House passes homeless public sleeping ban, a Gov. DeSantis priority

This is a 'carrot and stick' approach to handling unhoused populations.

It could be significantly harder for unhoused people to sleep in public spaces soon, as the House has passed legislation cracking down on the practice and compelling counties to set up homeless camps.

The Republican Rep. Sam Garrison bill has been called a “carrot and stick” approach to managing the homeless problem in the state.

“The status quo is not acceptable,” the Clay County Republican said ahead of the 82-26 vote, saying this bill would be among the most impactful passed this Session.

HB 1365 bans counties and municipalities from permitting public sleeping or public camping on public property without explicit permission, in a move deemed by the bill language to fulfill an “important state interest,” with what Garrison has called a “Florida model” for handling the issue.

Ahead of the passage, Democrats argued strenuously against the legislation.

Rep. Lavon Bracy Davis said the measure would “criminalize poverty.”

Rep. Anna Eskamani said that when it came to homelessness, she trusts “local experts” to solve them.

Rep. Ashley Gantt groused that the bill was an “unfunded mandate,” compelling local governments to be “dependent on” new federal grant money.

Republicans argued for it, with Rep. Ralph Massullo calling the bill “a step in the right direction” with support services that include mental health help and even potential job placement.

“When the cities aren’t acting, the state needs to,” Massullo said, explicitly arguing for preemption.

Rep. Jenna Persons-Mulicka said homelessness is “not a local issue,” with the unhoused “moving around the state.”

“We need to show leadership and we need to set the way,” she said, adding that the bill is about “public camping.”

Rep. Tommy Gregory said the bill illustrated the axiom “no good deed goes unpunished,” lauding the “great bill” and crediting Garrison with “trying to solve an important problem.”

Under the legislation, counties would be charged with setting up encampments that ban drugs and alcohol and include rehabilitative social services as a way of enforcing the prohibition against rough sleeping. The camps could only be in one place for 365 consecutive days

Those conditions include clean restrooms, running water, security on premises and bans on drugs and alcohol. They must also be located in places that don’t impact the value of nearby properties.

The bill moves back the effective date for the cause of action, which allows people to sue localities for not implementing the rule, to Jan. 1, 2025.

Other components of the bill would go into effect Oct. 1.

The legislation accords with a stated desire of Gov. Ron DeSantis to have camps such as those outlined in this bill and the Senate companion (SB 1630), with restrictions on what occupants can do and “help” available, in efforts to include what he has called “judicial scrutiny.”

The Governor, who has suggested institutionalization should be brought back, said that mental health help for the unhoused is “important.”

To that end, the legislation includes “behavioral health services, which must include substance abuse and mental health treatment resources.”

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


  • Bwj

    March 1, 2024 at 11:23 am

    But this bill falls to address the root causes of homelessness. High rent, well paying jobs, etc. Also falls to address past criminal records where residency restrictions limit where a person can live and their ability to find work. Homeless shelters often exclude that population. Additionally there is mental health. Is institutionalization really a viable option? Nobody likes to see homelessness. Nobody wants to think about being homeless, but we will do anything else to pretend that we’re doing something.

  • Paul

    March 1, 2024 at 11:53 am

    Republicans have agreed to let homeless folks sleep in their district offices. Just donate .25 to whatever PAC they run.

    • MH/Duuuval

      March 1, 2024 at 10:02 pm

      The welcome mat won’t be out in DC where MAGAs sleep in their offices and shower in the House gym. (Bunk beds might work in this case.)

  • Dont Say FLA

    March 1, 2024 at 11:57 am

    Thank goodness our problem with homeless poors sleeping has been completely solved, but unless they were sleep pooping, doesn’t their new always-awake status mean approximately one-third more pooping? I’d rather they slept than poop 1/3 more.

  • My Take

    March 1, 2024 at 12:04 pm

    You can’t not sleep, not for long.
    Where are they sjpposed to sleep?

  • Sidewalks to Nowhere

    March 1, 2024 at 1:15 pm

    How are we supposed to realize we’ve reached the end of a sidewalk to nowhere without a bum sleeping in the dirt whom we accidentally step on before realizing we’ve reached the final destination of our sidewalk, “nowhere.”

  • Dude

    March 1, 2024 at 1:26 pm

    Does this include people that squat in abandoned houses that are getting ready to rent or people are on vacation and they just decide they’re going to move in I guess they call him squatters I think it’s a shame that people can just take over your home that you own and work hard for and homeless people go in and take over is that included with all this bill of people not sleeping in the street

    • MH/Duuuval

      March 1, 2024 at 10:06 pm

      The short answer is NO.

      However, if a landlord essentially abandons a property and fails to maintain and secure it, street people will take advantage. Wouldn’t you, if you were down and out?

  • FreeSoul

    March 1, 2024 at 10:51 pm

    Criminalizing is not how you solve homelessness. Truly ridiculous.

    • Janie

      March 2, 2024 at 10:06 pm

      I agree

  • JustBabs

    March 2, 2024 at 10:56 am

    In regards to addressing mental health, maybe they should do something about the fact that 99% of psychiatrists in Florida are cash only. No insurance taken. Psychologists and counselors have mostly moved to tele-health services only. How do we get the homeless the care they need. Where are they going to build those institutions and with what funds?

  • Her

    March 2, 2024 at 11:17 pm

    The state of Florida is becoming the worst I hate our government here get rid of the asses

  • Kenai

    March 3, 2024 at 8:55 am

    Oh good, so that means there will be hundreds of millions invested in more homeless shelters, job training programs, mental health programs, drug rehab, child services, affordable housing, women’s shelters, etc? Banning public sleeping with no mention of the cause of homelessness or any alternatives to solving this problem is a weak and lazy way to (not) deal with an issue.

Comments are closed.


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