Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Round 2 is Tonight

The unprecedented Fort Lauderdale anti-homeless campaign takes another step forward at City Hall tonight. Advocates working to stop these laws will be gathering at Stranahan Park at 5 pm  to rally and walk to the meeting. Beyond the second vote on the public indecency and private property ordinances, at least 3 more similar ordinances are in the works. Here's the press release from two of the groups organizing against the "Homeless Hate Laws:"

This evening, May 6, at 6pm, two ordinances limiting the rights of homeless persons to engage in life-sustaining behavior will receive second readings at the regular 6pm meeting of the Fort Lauderdale City Commission.  As they were for the first readings of these ordinances on April 15, members of the homeless and homeless advocacy communities plan to be out in full force to speak against the ordinances and to demand an end to the ongoing harassment of homeless persons including their exclusion from Stranahan Park, along with permanent housing for the city's over 500 chronically homeless individuals.  Supporters of the homeless will hold a rally beginning at 5pm at Stranahan Park, then march to City Hall one block away for the start of the meeting.

On January 29, the City of Fort Lauderdale announced at a public workshop meeting its intent to pass a series of ordinances which would respectively criminalize the life-sustaining activity of homeless persons by 1) effectively banning groups from the charitable act of sharing food with homeless and other hungry persons; 2) banning storing personal property, camping and other life-sustaining activity on public property; 3) banning solicitation in rights of way.   While city officials have stated their commitment to house chronically homeless persons in conjunction with the federal 'Housing First' and '100,000 Homes' campaigns, the City's plan to house only 22 such individuals while it vilifies the vast majority for eating, sleeping and having some meager possessions outdoors, as mandated by their homeless state, is mere window dressing on a national trend to criminalize life-sustaining behavior on the part of the vast majority of homeless persons.

The proposal which would enable police to seize the possessions of homeless persons drew the most ire in local and national media, with Op-Ed News headlining its take on the city's newly ramped up meanness "Fort Lauderdale may now lead the Country In Heartlessness Towards The Homeless."

While local homeless advocates have been confronting efforts by the City to criminalize and/or ban life-

sustaining acts like food sharing for decades, this time around even the founder of the nation's largest homeless organization, the National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH), based in Washington, D.C., has entered the fray.  Michael Stoops, now serving as NCH's Director of Community Organizing, had this to say about the commission's proposals:

"These proposed ordinances run counter to Ft. Lauderdale’s plan to end homelessness.   Making it illegal to be homeless is really the economic profiling of the homeless population.  Criminalizing homelessness has been tried before in your city and it hasn’t accomplished anything other than jailing the homeless and costing taxpayers.  The city should focus on housing the homeless vs. arresting them."

Stoops is in Fort Lauderdale to shine a national spotlight on the city's efforts to criminalize homelessness and plans, along with a host of local homeless advocates, to speak against the ordinances up for second readings and likely passage this evening.   Ordinances must be given two public readings before the commission can vote on them.


Stay tuned for news from tonight's meeting and also some announcements about upcoming events homeless advocates are planning to raise opposition to the "Homeless Hate Laws."

No comments:

Post a Comment