Gov. DeSantis rejects claim that Florida is ‘criminalizing homelessness’

DeSantis AP
'What the bill does is, it says you have a right to take people out of the public areas and put them in a shelter.'

Gov. Ron DeSantis is defending legislation he signed this week that bans people from sleeping in public, saying it doesn’t punish the unhoused, but helps them.

“It’s not criminalizing homelessness. What they’re saying is you don’t have a right to just sleep in front of somebody’s business or you don’t have a right to just take over a street and put an encampment down,” DeSantis said.

The Governor made the comments in Bonita Springs in defense of HB 1365, sponsored by Republican Sen. Jon Martin and Republican Rep. Sam Garrison.

The bill requires local jurisdictions to pick a piece of public property and wrangle people who are camping or sleeping in public spaces toward that location. Local camps must include clean restrooms, running water, security on premises and bans on drugs and alcohol. It bans counties and municipalities from permitting public sleeping or camping on public property without explicit permission.

“What the bill does is, it says you have a right to take people out of the public areas and put them in a shelter,” DeSantis added.

“We’re putting requirements that you’re not allowing them to use drugs. You’re offering mental health, you’re doing that.”

The Governor added that homeless people “should be in a shelter … some place that is outside of where the public is impacted by this.”

“You should not be impacted by a homeless encampment as a Floridian,” he added.

DeSantis argued that homelessness elsewhere was a reason people came to his state in recent years, saying that “if other places around the country had done that, there probably would be a lot fewer people moving to Florida as a result.”

Democrats noted that the bill presented an unfunded mandate ahead of the Legislature passing it. DeSantis’ worry, apparently satisfied by the legislation’s final form, was that he didn’t want “Sodom and Gomorrah” style homeless camps.

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


  • Dont Say FLA

    March 21, 2024 at 2:30 pm

    Rhonda says to voters that “this is going to hurt me more than it will hurt you, and I am only doing this for your own good.”

    Yes, folks, that would seem to be the very same lie he tells his children at belt time.

    And I bet even they don’t believe him.

  • MH/Duuuval

    March 21, 2024 at 3:11 pm

    Great program ideas that Dee has, and the localities get to pay for it. Dee will be spending our money instead on military filibustering.

    • MH/Duuuval

      March 24, 2024 at 10:02 pm

      “After nearly a decade of decline, homelessness began rising in 2016 and last year leapt by 12 percent to the highest level since the federal government started its count in 2007. The growth was especially sharp among chronically homeless people sleeping outside of shelters, whose numbers have risen three quarters over the past seven years. These rough sleepers are the focus of Rough Sleepers, Tracy Kidder’s latest book.”

  • Michael K

    March 21, 2024 at 3:26 pm

    There’s plenty of room on tyhe grounds of the governor’s mansion to host a tent city. The governor should lead by example and open the gates to his subsidized public housing.

    Pushing homeless people out of sight does not solve the problem. Truth is, many of the unhoused are working people who cannot afford housing – and all are not mentally ill, as Rhonda states.

    • Bill Pollard

      March 21, 2024 at 7:34 pm

      You hit upon something that most people do not know. Many people who work can no longer afford a place to live and are now homeless. Something is very wrong when people who work cannot afford housing.

      • MH/Duuuval

        March 22, 2024 at 9:59 am

        It’s tell that Dee no longer is a Florida homeowner. But, he pays no insurance, no utilities, no taxes. He should work for free since he hasn’t done much for the voters of modest means who would love to have free rent, no utilities bills, a limo and security, etc..

      • Skippy LaNoue

        March 23, 2024 at 3:19 pm

        Ya think? 🤣 We’ve been headed down this road for awhile now, people have had their heads in the sand over this for decades….as a country, we are great at playing kick the can with societal issues like racism, bad policing, mass shootings of our children, unemployed and underemployed, etc.

  • Jacinth Finch Helmbrecht

    March 21, 2024 at 7:43 pm

    That’s so true.The landlords are raising the rent so fast and so much.You cant afford down payment.So next thing is on the streets. It’s not by choice to be on the streets for every one.

  • Carolyn Gorman

    March 21, 2024 at 10:44 pm

    Gentification for working class.If you do not live with someone you cannot make it on your own unless you have a great paying job above $25 a HR.I have a job 20.00 hr and I live with someone who has a job $20 a hour and we are the working poor that struggles and I mean struggles to meet rent,car insurance,food , utilities good for animals it’s basic needs that we cannot afford.Monthly allowance not welfare is what we as a country need.I am sure those politicians in Washington and all over are not just earning $20 hr.Sndvi am sure they get substidized housing or if they grew up with a trust fund or running a business there parents set up for them.Also if you have to look for apartment you need money for appplication fees holding fees,first last security but desantis does not sign a bill this week eliminating these companies for charging absorbident fees.They have you over a rock and a hard place.This is America corporate greed.

  • Carolyn H

    March 21, 2024 at 11:04 pm

    Just in time for Olara and Ritz Carlton residences and the temple rebuild on N Flagler Drive.WestPalm Beach Florida you do not want to subject these millionaires and billionaires to the reality of the working poor and the underprivileged they do not deserve that in there new playground.

  • John McGee

    March 22, 2024 at 5:29 am

    I think the government should help the homeless I see a lot of them everyday alot of the people are crippled up the government helps take care of illeagy people plus all the money they have given out to Ukraine the homeless could have a place to go If I see a person standing on the corner I always try to help GOD BLESS THE HOMELESS HOMELESS EVERYWHERE

  • Clint Bart

    March 22, 2024 at 9:12 am

    I agree that the rent is going so fast and higher every year, your pay only raise 25 to 50 cents, a year, these billionaires are buying up the land in Florida cheap then get a tax break for several years, and none of these houses is affordable, does the governor sees that, to address it, and stop giving them these unless they are affordable

    • Michael K

      March 22, 2024 at 9:39 am

      And the folks in mobile home parks? Equity firms are buying those up and rent for the land has increased exponentially, forcing people out.

  • Stacia Henry

    March 23, 2024 at 10:09 am

    He just lost all my support!

  • Dont Say FLA

    March 25, 2024 at 11:30 am

    What homeless problem could there even be when Florida brags about an unemployment rate that’s lower than the national average?

    If everybody’s working, why is everybody also homeless?

  • Andrew Finn

    March 25, 2024 at 8:03 pm

    Never – ever thought I would agree with DeSantis on anything — but I have to give him the “thumbs up” on this one !!!!!!

  • Monday news

    April 3, 2024 at 8:57 pm

    The design of the bill sounds right. people have behavioral problems and no one wants to make a behavioral problem theirs

Comments are closed.


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