Senate passes homeless camping ban backed by Gov. DeSantis, who will get to sign it soon
Image via The Associated Press.

homeless phoenix ap
Florida is ready to crack down on homelessness, and let local jurisdictions foot the bill for the state's scheme.

The Senate has passed a House bill creating a new financial obligation on localities by banning homeless people from sleeping in public, setting the stage for a Gov. Ron DeSantis priority becoming law.

The measure from Rep. Sam Garrison (HB 1365), passed by a 27-12 vote after being substituted for the Senate version, would ban counties and municipalities from permitting public sleeping or public camping on public property without explicit permission, compelling these localities to round up the homeless and put them somewhere.

Under the legislation that was sponsored in the Senate by GOP Sen. Jonathan Martin, 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 as part of what the sponsor calls a “compassionate response to the shortage of shelters.” The camps could only be in one place for 365 consecutive days.

Those conditions, funded by the counties, 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.

“This provides a framework for local governments, specifically counties, to house those who are living illegally on public property,” said Martin on Tuesday’s third reading.

For the second straight day, outnumbered Democrats pushed back against the bill.

“This isn’t the way to do it,” said Senate Democratic Leader Lauren Book, noting the bill had many holes and “no answers” when it came to specific logistical questions.

“This is an unfunded mandate,” remarked Sen. Linda Stewart. “If there were money, that would make it easier to support.”

Sen. Geraldine Thompson said the focus of the bill was “not wanting to see the failure in our society that has brought about homelessness.”

“I don’t understand what we’re doing to human beings,” Thompson said. She estimated this plan would cost localities $500 million a year to impose.

Sen. Rosalind Osgood wondered how localities would handle the housing of sex offenders, given residency restrictions requiring them to be separate from children.

In the Senate hearing Monday setting up the bill’s passage, Democrats questioned the bill sponsor about the logistics of this proposal, an interrogation that revealed some significant issues the sponsor either didn’t contemplate or didn’t see worthy of putting into his legislation.

Democratic Sen. Jason Pizzo, who contended Tuesday that a “think tank” wrote the legislation, wondered on Monday why Martin didn’t try the concept out with a local pilot program rather than imposing the conceptual scheme on the entire state at once.

Martin said it would be “unfair” for his home of Lee County to be the sole beneficiary of this “great bill,” suggesting that some homeless people would “leave Lee County” rather than get this “help.”

Also on Monday, Book asked if animals would be allowed in the camps, and Martin said his bill left that question wide open as well.

The same vagueness held true for how a homeless person would get a permit for outdoor camping.

If an interred homeless person has a mental health episode in the camp, meanwhile, the sponsor said that person could simply be Baker Acted or Marchman Acted “until they’re able to leave.”

Martin noted Monday that the Department of Children and Families and other state agencies would offer support in the camps, being “able to do their job much more efficiently” than now, and that law enforcement was already dealing with the homeless problem anyway, so his bill would “save money.”

The legislation accords with a stated desire of the Governor to have camps 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 mental health help for the unhoused is “important,” but that he didn’t want “Sodom and Gomorrah” style homeless camps.

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


  • Julia

    March 4, 2024 at 6:10 pm

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    Look at this……………………………….

  • ScienceBLVR

    March 4, 2024 at 7:32 pm

    Florida sure leads the nation in proposing idiotic, unnecessary, discriminatory and sometimes hateful legislation- much of which is thrown out by the courts- all at our expense, of course. But this one makes my personal top 10. How to solve the crisis of poverty and homelessness in one easy step! Wow..

  • Paul

    March 4, 2024 at 7:41 pm

    Unfunded Mandate is Tallahassee’s middle name. And Sen. Jonathan Martin seems to have given more thought to his last bowel movement than this bill.

    • MH/Duuuval

      March 4, 2024 at 8:06 pm

      Correct — unfunded mandates and loss of home rule define the 21st century in Florida.

  • Earl Pitts "Sage Political Expert Emeritas" American

    March 4, 2024 at 8:07 pm

    Good evening America,
    This Legislation is being adopted by all of the other 49 States as the best and most careing method to help our 8iden-Nomics Disinfranchized homeless citizens Nation-Wide in The Continental USA, Alaska, Hawaii and all territories are excited to get the help they so Desperatly need.
    A greatfull Nation bends its knee in Greatfull Gratitude to Ron “The Ronald” and our next First Lady Casey DeSantis.
    This Sage News Break has been brought to you by Earl Pitts American

    • rick whitaker

      March 4, 2024 at 9:14 pm


  • Dont Say FLA

    March 4, 2024 at 8:08 pm

    The Governor’s Mansion is, in fact, a public place. Where shall Rhonda and Mrs Rhonda and kids sleep? And their little dog, too, if it has not yet been returned or runned off.

  • Joe

    March 4, 2024 at 10:38 pm

    Well sure, sounds exactly like something a party that’s all about “freedom” would do!

  • Janice Tetstone

    March 4, 2024 at 11:20 pm

    As an American and one having been born and raised in Florida….. I’m ashame of the Governor and all who would force homeless Americans to live in camps. Americans are better than that! What do you think the millions of people who lost their homes to crooked banker are going to do…just go out and buy another house… ? There were more than 3.1 million foreclosure filings issued during 2008, which means that one of every 54 households received a notice last year.Jan 15, 2009,received%20a%20notice%20last%20year.

  • Earl Pitts "Sage Political Expert Emeritas" American

    March 5, 2024 at 7:10 am

    Good Morn ‘Ting Dook 4 Brains Leftys,
    As the facts of your Democratic Party’s imanant political “Fall From Grace” many of you have taken to attacking the “Sage Wisdom” of ME, Earl Pitts American.
    “I’m Honored” said ME, Earl Pitts American.
    Dont forget to have an “EARL PITTS AMERICAN DAY”!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Dont Say FLA

      March 5, 2024 at 7:16 am

      (It feels weird for me using your name but) Happy Earl Pitts American Day, Pops! It’s a better America with you here.

    • rick whitaker

      March 5, 2024 at 5:18 pm

      earl, i bet that if you went to a homeless camp, you could find a sphincter pounder much cheaper than around the school campus. what am i talking about, i’m sure the studs at the homeless camp already know you well. so in a weird way, desantis helping increase the homeless numbers, has helped you find plenty of cheap and sometimes free sphincter pounders. well, earl, good luck with that. you dirty fool, shame on you.

      • Janice Tetstone

        March 5, 2024 at 5:33 pm

        Like mamy homeless people not all gay people get to choose their lifestyle….some times a pervert chooses it for them. If the comments have changed from being about homeless people… I see no reason to post here.

        • rick whitaker

          March 5, 2024 at 5:48 pm

          my comment was about people like earl praying on the homeless. i’m a person that would eliminate most homelessness if i were in power. the homeless are victimized in many ways. i said nothing about gay people, homeless or otherwise. earl is an 82 year old sexual predator, the homeless just represent an easy target for those sexual predator types. if you read a hundred of earls old posts, most are talking about sphincters. i am not homophobic, earl is extremely homophobic. don’t believe me, read his own perverted words. earl is anti homeless, anti gay, anti democrat, anti minority, and on and on. your comment sounded like you care and are the opposition to a guy like earl. my comment was to earl, the fool, not you. thanks for your well intended comment.

          • Janice Tetstone

            March 5, 2024 at 7:40 pm

            I believe everyone is entitled to their personal opinions about any subjust.
            Not always are people who/ what people believe them to be. I don’t personally know either of you. And at 75 I know a little about life and have my own opinions. Sorry, if I misinterpreted your comment.

          • Bwj

            March 6, 2024 at 2:40 pm

            You’re misinformed about sexual assault. I’m not a fan of Earl. However, there are those on the SO registry who are homeless because of housing restrictions unemployment, and an inability to get access to necessary servicesm

        • rick whitaker's

          March 6, 2024 at 1:38 pm

          janice, i’m 71. earl is 82 earl is a fake name. his real name is gary burbank. he worked as a 3rd rate radio shock jock back in the 70’s. earl is listed on wikipedia as gary burbank. an earl pitts is on the florida sexual predators’ list. i think this earl pitts ( fake name ) might be a different earl pitts. regardless, if you read any of his silly, potty humor, and bigoted post, then you would know why other posters consider him to be so vile.

  • Lee

    March 5, 2024 at 8:03 am

    We’re not “helping” the homeless by allowing them to camp on city streets, libraries, and other public places. If they’re able-bodied, they need to be encouraged to get a job. If they’re unable (not just unwilling) to work, they need meaningful help–mental-health counseling, assisted living, etc.

    • Bwj

      March 6, 2024 at 2:44 pm

      That sounds like a simple solution. But employers are reluctant to hire those with criminal records. Even those facing addiction. Then there is an issue of affordable housing. A minimum wage job isn’t going to cover housing costs in Florida.

  • Janice Tetstone

    March 5, 2024 at 9:52 am

    Americans have a constitutional right to eat, sleep and play on public land , It is the people who live in Florida counties who elect those in city and county gov. The Governor has no business order our counties around. Apparently he is not qualified to serve the people,as a whole, living in Florida counties.

    • Lee

      March 5, 2024 at 10:47 am

      Where exactly is the right to camp/sleep on public sidewalks in the constitution? We all need to be respectful of each other’s use and enjoyment of public spaces. Public encampments interfere with others’ use of those spaces. San Francisco provides a stunning example.

      • Janice Tetstone

        March 5, 2024 at 1:30 pm

        one county’s problem should stay one countys problem and not be used to force their politics down the throats of all county governments in the state of Florida. Freedom was and is not free. In America we still believe in life, liberty and justice for all… and the homeless are more than that they are American down on their luck who don’t need an ex state attorney making rules that will certainly keep the jails full. …. and taxes of course will sky rocket… for the tax payers.

      • Janice Tetstone

        March 5, 2024 at 3:23 pm

        The Eighth Amendment prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment directly forbids communities from criminalizing certain aspects of homelessness. When cities prohibit life-sustaining conduct, they present people with an unconstitutional mandate: follow the law and die, or stay alive and risk arrest.,stay%20alive%20and%20risk%20arrest.

      • Bwj

        March 6, 2024 at 2:46 pm

        Actually it’s a basic human right to have those things. San Francisco housing prices have outpaced income.

  • Francesca Michelini

    March 5, 2024 at 11:28 am

    I’m wondering if you would consider using people first language such as a “person experiencing homelessness “? Since homelessness is not a permanent characteristic and an experience this term is more respectful of the population.

    • Lee

      March 5, 2024 at 2:53 pm

      What? No one said homelessness is permanent.

  • ScienceBLVR

    March 5, 2024 at 11:52 am

    Ok, here’s the solution……
    Tax the rich
    Feed the poor
    Till there are no
    Rich no more…
    Keeps on breeding
    Nation bleeding
    Still more feeding, economy
    Id love to change the world…

  • Kristyne E Parks

    March 5, 2024 at 11:53 am

    Come and work with the homeless, many of which fought and suffered in our military to “protect” this nation. No one is protecting them. Many or most have mental issues and most have serious addiction problems. The men and women I see every day are mostly broken down, tired and discouraged. They, just like the rest of us, want to be safe and know that someone cares about them. Ron DeSantis is anti-humanity, with his own mental health issues.

    • Janice Tetstone

      March 5, 2024 at 1:14 pm

      I agree… And thank you for being a caring person.

  • Michele

    March 5, 2024 at 12:44 pm

    HB 1365 is sponsored by Representative Sam Garrison (R-Fleming Island) and companion bill SB 1530 is sponsored by State Senator Jonathan Martin. FYI

  • Janice Tetstone

    March 5, 2024 at 1:12 pm

    That explains why the bill takes no mercy on the homeless. An ex state attorney should never be elected to state or county offices…

    • Janice Tetstone

      March 5, 2024 at 3:30 pm

      The Supreme Court held in its 1962 decision Robinson v
      California that it was cruel and unusual under the Eighth
      Amendment to punish people for “status” crimes-that is, crimes
      defined by who people are, not what they do.’ In the decade
      following that decision, courts used the status crimes doctrine to
      invalidate statutes that made vagrancy illegal.2 In response to
      recent, explosive increases in their homeless populations, however,
      many communities have bypassed the Court’s status crimes
      mandate by outlawing actions that are attendant to vagrancy,
      such as sleeping in public places. Homeless people in these
      communities have used the status crimes doctrine to challenge
      such ordinances; however, since the Supreme Court narrowed the
      doctrine in Powell v Texas,3 the Eighth Amendment has provided
      the homeless with very precarious protection.

  • Lee

    March 5, 2024 at 2:52 pm

    I think this conversation is conflating two distinct issues:
    1. Do homeless people have a (constitutional) right to sleep/camp on public land in a way that excludes others from use of that land? Absolutely not. Consider, for example, the case where homeless persons choose to camp on a public playground so that children can no longer use it. Public spaces are meant to be shared spaces.
    2. Do homeless people deserve humane treatment? Of course they do. The truly disadvantaged, veterans with PTSD for example, absolutely deserve our help. The question is “how can we best help them?” We’re in this together. I believe there are lots of caring folks in Florida who would be happy to lend a helping hand if they knew how/where to do it. If you know of good volunteer opportunities to help homeless persons, please get the word out. (BTW, volunteer efforts could save us all from more dreaded tax hikes.)

  • As

    March 5, 2024 at 2:56 pm

    SB1530 not SB 1630 a typo.
    You never tried driving or walk all night for 8 hours because nothing your taxes helped pay for will be available by night basically already a 40 hour work load. By daylight we endure abuse for needing a break by quality of life people who always want more quality of life never asking themselves if they persecute anyone and everyone trying to be satisfied with less… Up to measures that would effectively involuntary detain or kill anyone contented to have less… Build more parks exclusively for dogs… Complain that tax dollars are spent on human beings with less than the wantmores… Keep people awake untill they are incoherent and then cage the disability. In short… Destroy the class you have trampled and the humans you hazed for the sake of your recreational pursuit… Then wake up to those who realized being content with less would kill them… Once the easy going people are no more for this hell you describe as the decent community… You’re going to blame your selves when we are replaced by those who very much are motivated to enjoy the quality of life you flaunt about as if being privileged was matter of adopting merely some social attitude… How you will curse the foolishness when Rome falls. I grieve for the Emily-Elizabeths who had no idea and for all of Birdwell Island. Quality of life is not an attitude adjustment these bills prove as much. This spells woe to everyone don’t you see? Some merely suffer the first but no politic happens in a vacuum or to nobody. Alas quality of life…alas

  • Nope

    March 5, 2024 at 6:15 pm

    I think we should all start taking naps in public parks and see how long it takes to get arrested. See what happens.

    • Paul

      March 5, 2024 at 7:10 pm

      Excellent idea. A little Woolworth lunch counter civil disobedience is definitely called for.

  • the Truth

    March 6, 2024 at 9:52 am

    Great bill by Great Senator

    • Paul

      March 6, 2024 at 10:28 am

      You going to foot the costs?

    • rick whitaker's

      March 6, 2024 at 1:44 pm

      the truth, i think you misspoke, didn’t you really mean, a POS bill by a POS senator? if you were speaking truth instead of BS, that would be right on. florida has the worst politicians in the country, everyone but you knows that.

  • Janice Tetstone

    March 6, 2024 at 10:24 am

    For the elite few===it’s a great bill. But not for the majority of Americans…….Then again not everyone in the USA claim to be American.

  • William Foreman

    March 6, 2024 at 1:53 pm

    This bill is absurd. Any “sanctioned” campground is not feasible. Are you telling me that a woman who is a domestic violence victim will put herself in that environment? Or a mother with smaill children? A veteran with PTSD? Not gonna happen. As a result, you are going to see skyrocketing costs caused by the arrests of those who won’t comply. Not to mention emergency services and unforseen costs this campground will incur. Good luck with that. Affordable housing and homeless prevention is the answer and this is more than likely going to cause a decrease in funding dedicated to creating solutions that have been proven to work.

  • rick whitaker's

    March 6, 2024 at 2:14 pm

    the truth is that the super rich could EASILY furnish housing for the poor but refuse to do so for no GOOD reason

  • Janice Tetstone

    March 6, 2024 at 2:33 pm

    Except , the elite have a problem with Americans they cannot control.

    • rick whitaker's

      March 6, 2024 at 3:09 pm

      janice, i don’t exactly know who you mean when you say ,” elite ”
      i do know what the maga position on this subject is though. i’ve given 2 houses away recently to needy people, and i’m not even close to being rich. the problem with lorida homelessness is bad government by bad people.

  • How is the state going to enforce this law?

    March 6, 2024 at 5:55 pm

    Curious what will happen when municipalities basically just side step this legislation. Many bigger cities already have robust social services and shelters that are doing good work and could use more funding. Law enforcement is already tasked with dealing with these issues as they arise, under serious constraints. Why should money be diverted from programs and policing already in place? If financial efforts to enact this new law don’t make the budget, due to other constraints, what is the state going to do, really? Who will they prosecute in these cities? There are a lot of gaps and lack of teeth here.

  • Recall Lee County Senator

    March 6, 2024 at 6:01 pm

    I have an idea. Let’s remove Lee County from Florida. Because they voted for this guy, JM, who any bill he presents is a catastrophe waiting to happen. I would much rather have an eggplant represent Florida than him. What a nightmare.

  • KS

    March 13, 2024 at 12:08 am

    He’s absolutely clueless. He came back to Florida after an embarrassing presidential campaign only to reek havoc on the good citizens of Florida. Ya know, some people understand the status quo, as they diligently work towards making our world a better place to be. They understand it takes hard work to make a change, but they gladly roll up their sleeves and get to it. They DO NOT bully the legislature in making a quick law that only compounds an already serious situation by bullying the diverse communities in our state into compliance. Enforcement of this law may be the one that breaks the camel’s back by completely overloading our legal system from law enforcement officers to the prosecutors/defenders through the judiciary and correctional institutions.

    • KS

      March 13, 2024 at 12:08 am

      Once a “camper” has finally completed the heĺlatious process, he/she must return to their life or what’s left of it. Perhaps with no place to live and no job. It would be like starting over, EXCEPT now they have a CONVICTION on their record. Hmmm, seems to me this law will only contribute to the problem, taking us further from a solution. By the way, you can check out this future law by looking at HB1365 and SB1530.

      • KS

        March 13, 2024 at 12:09 am

        He’s incapable of compassion and lacks executive cognate skills. There are communities that have created model programs using successful strategies. Desantis could educate himself on the and strive for betterment. St. Petersburg has such a program piloted by St.Vincent de Paul of Southern Pinellas.

  • Janice Tetstone

    March 13, 2024 at 12:46 am

    The Governor didn’t write the bill or didn’t vote for the bill,an ex state attorney wrote it. This beating up on Florida’s Governor is wrong IMO .If you don’t respect the man respect the Office he holds. I have to wonder reading some of the comments if they have even read the bill…

Comments are closed.


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