Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Homeless Confiscations - A For-Profit Enterprise

Notices and sticker tags went up on homeless property around the Stranahan Park area once again yesterday, November 29th. The notices say that the City will once again be cleaning the area tomorrow, December 1st, and anything left at 8 am that morning will be removed.

Fort Lauderdale's Storage Ban was passed in 2014 and has been used very infrequently the past few months. In fact, one of the most consistent uses of enforcement so far has been when the Women's Club of Fort Lauderdale has a wedding coming up. That's been true in prior enforcements, and it is also true this week, as there is a wedding scheduled for 4:30 this Friday inside Stranahan Park.

Matters of improper policing and class are often brought up in regards to issues surrounding Stranahan Park. The storage ban may be the clearest lesson yet - a law that is ONLY enforced when wealthy, influential people are intending to profit off of a public space,  and need the area cleared out ahead of time.

This issue has dragged on for years, and it has only gotten more ridiculous. One of our most in depth pieces on Stranahan was actually written due to the incessant rumors, spread by FLPD and Women's Club volunteers, that Stranahan wasn't a public park at all. Around the same time, the Women's Club induced the City to put a fence around the Park. Although this courtesy was not extended to any other organization that has been using the park on a regular basis for years, the Women's Club was conveniently given a key to the Park.

In another weird twist, a church group that booked the Women's Club to do a Thanksgiving sharing for the homeless last year got a rude surprise when they tried to do it again this year - a last minute call from the FLPD announcing that their sharing was cancelled. Again, we have the same group of privileged individuals, using the police to have their own event pulled because they got cold feed about having too many homeless around.

It is well past time that the Women's Club's ability to dictate how the homeless people around Stranahan are treated to end. Their ability to command the police to take away homeless people's belongings, in order for them to make a buck off a wedding, is absolutely repulsive.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Food Not Bombs Appeals Sharing Ban Case

Last week, attorneys for Fort Lauderdale Food Not Bombs filed an appeal in its effort to stop Fort Lauderdale's sharing ban law. In the original case, the judge ruled in favor of a motion for summary judgment for the defense, dismissing the case before it could head to trial. 
Food Not Bombs feels confident that the Judge's ruling did not properly reflect the group's mission to share food with the homeless as an act of protest against war and greed, which should be protected by our first amendment rights.  
Two years after the sharing ban was originally enforced against homeless advocates in downtown Fort Lauderdale, the criminal cases against food sharers are still dragging on. Closing in on nearly 3 years since city officials first announced their intent to impose a sharing ban, they still have not announced a revised sharing ban law.  
Fort Lauderdale Food Not Bombs stands in solidarity with all the people who have been affected by the City's anti-homeless laws and will continue to work towards a day where they are all repealed.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Proposal for New Homeless Shelter Continues Wednesday

The second meeting of the "Ad Hoc Central Fort Lauderdale Committee" for the Broward Homelessness Continuum of Care Board (COC) was a few weeks ago. Once again, the focus of the discussion turned towards a new day shelter for downtown Fort Lauderdale. One that would solve problems such as the storage ban and further reduce the chronically homeless population of downtown.

While it wouldn't solve all the problems downtown, there are some pretty big benefits to this idea. The ad hoc committee has passed a recommendation for this shelter to the full CoC board, for discussion this Wednesday at 10 am at Government Center. If it passes here, the recommendation will be moved to the Broward County Commission, who would have the power necessary to enforce it.

This shelter may have the power to save lives, and change the course of people's futures. Hopefully the rest of Broward County sees it the same way. It's a bit hard to tell if the idea has much traction in the halls of power and the general public since absolutely no one besides this site has been reporting on this issue. CoC board members have been talking about this since at least July...hopefully this becomes newsworthy soon?

Monday, October 3, 2016

Sharing Ban Ruling Met with Dismay, Garlic Bread

The following is a statement from Fort Lauderdale Food Not Bombs after its sharing ban lawsuit was dismissed last Friday.


In 2014, the City of Fort Lauderdale passed many "homeless hate laws," the last of which was a ban on sharing food in public spaces within city limits. A series of lawsuits have delayed enforcement of this law for almost 2 years. One of those lawsuits was filed by Fort Lauderdale Food Not Bombs. We have been sharing food downtown in Strahanan Park for about 10 years. Like Food Not Bombs chapters all over the world, we do this as an act of solidarity with the marginalized homeless people of Fort Lauderdale, and to protest the greed and militarism that prevents equity needed for the poor and oppressed people of the nation and the world. 

A Recent Fort Lauderdale Food Not Bombs Sharing
On Friday, the judge presiding over our food-sharing-as-protected-free-speech case finally responded to the parties' motions for summary judgment, dismissing ours and granting those of the defendants'. Fort Lauderdale, and indeed the entire federal court system, now has a fresh court victory against the rights of homeless and homeless advocates. 

Hours later, Food Not Bombs volunteers and homeless folk shared hot soup and garlic bread under the gazebo inside Stranahan Park as the rain fell. Some of those arrested in 2014 still have active criminal cases dragging on to this day. As the rain tapered off, we talked about the uncertain future ahead. 

The world didn't exactly stand still in the last 2 years. The federal government has released several briefings in an attempt to discourage cities from criminalizing homelessness. So far there's not much indication that that is curbing the City of Fort Lauderdale's habits. Commissioner Dean Trantalis has actually said on a few occasions at public county meetings over the summer that he does not think the laws are working and he would like to have them repealed.

Food Not Bombs & friends
on a walking tour of downtown last weekend
There are still other legal challenges for the sharing ban and it may be difficult to enforce the sharing ban law at this time in spite of the ruling. The City has not released any updates so far about enforcement of the sharing ban.

In the end, the Judge ruled that our food sharings simply don't qualify as first amendment activities. This is a peculiar notion. Food Not Bombs and other activists have joined together at food sharings to show solidarity with the oppressed, and to express outrage over an inequitable status quo, for a decade now. The messages, solidarity, and actions that take place in Stranahan Park continue to reverberate across Broward County and the state of Florida.

We can't say for certain anything about the ongoing legal status of our sharings at this time. Besides Fridays at Stranahan, it's theoretically possible the Sistrunk Sharing could be affected as well, which takes place this coming Wednesday. For now we continue to encourage the rebel food sharers of South Florida to continue to visit Stranahan Park. 

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Downtown Disposium - The Tour!

As previously discussed, the DDA wants to impress its friends with its many accomplishments next week. We would like to impress our friends with its many failures, and the failures of the other cronies that make up Fort Lauderdale's upper crust.

On Saturday, September 24th, there will be walking tour of downtown Fort Lauderdale, starting at 3 pm at Stranahan Park. Food Not Bombs & company will be helping everyone take in the sights and stories of some of the most hotly contested parts of downtown. There's a lot more wrong with this City than the Mayor or the City Manager.

From FATS Village to Riverwalk, there's a lot of millionaires who are working closely to ensure that the future of downtown is one for the wealthy, and not for the homeless, the working class, or the Black community of Sistrunk. In the meantime, we have some infographics up as well as last weeks' introductory video,

Onward to the Downtown Disposium, next weekend!
All Aboard Florida/Brightline in Fort Lauderdale \ Downtown Disposium

Broward County Continuum of Care Board \ Downtown Disposium

Fort Lauderdale Downtown Development Authority \ Downtown Disposium

Fort Lauderdale NW Progresso Flagler CRA \ Downtown Disposium

Stranahan Park \ Downtown Disposium

Sunday, September 11, 2016

The Downtown Disposium

On Friday, September 23rd, The Downtown Development Authority of Fort Lauderdale will be hosting a "Downtown Symposium." Local developers and politicians will be rubbing shoulders with visiting DDA representatives from other states, and presumably touting the many exciting projects the DDA has been promoting in recent years.

In reality, the DDA is another piece of the problem in Fort Lauderdale; another City entity meant to serve the public interest, controlled by millionaire developers and property owners. They try to avoid the limelight, but there are plenty of stories out there about their recent efforts. There's their role in supporting the City's homeless hate laws. The money pit known as the Wave Street Car. Their attempts to privatize Huzienga Plaza. Their illegal campaign contributions to Fort Lauderdale City Commissioners. Another project, the "yellow shirt" Ambassador Program" is a low-security team recently implemented to make sure poor people don't bother wealthy people in the Riverwalk area. It also has a sleazy origin story within the DDA.

The biggest problem of all is that these entities don't even operate in great secrecy, but rather in a vacuum, deprived of public interest and oversight. Few can define what a Downtown Development Authority or a Community Redevelopment Agency is. Fewer still can explain how their relationship with the wealthiest interests in Fort Lauderdale can make incredibly toxic long-term consequences for the poor people of Broward County.

With that in mind, Fort Lauderdale Food Not Bombs welcomes the public to learn about these concepts, from a grassroots perspective, at their own Downtown Disposium at the end of September. We'll be throwing a lot of information on this blog between now and the end of the month to build this understanding.

On Friday, September 23rd, we encourage the public to help welcome DDA guests at the Broward Performing Arts Center.

Finally, on Saturday, September 24th, we're taking everyone on a tour of Fort Lauderdale for the Downtown Disposium. This walking tour of downtown will introduce everyone to concepts like DDA's, CRA's, and how it relates to rapidly gentifying streets, from Sistrunk to Riverwalk.

Lots of details will be announced later. For now, enjoy this educational video about the Downtown Disposium.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Homeless Board Doesn't Want Homeless Advocates & More

After a long delay, Broward County's Continuum Care of Board met again on Wednesday, September 8th, and there was much to discuss. One of the most surprising, and contentious subjects of discussion, was a proposal to reduce the amount of "homeless advocate" seats on the CoC Board from 4 to 1 and replace them with representatives from local Chambers of Commerce and other County administrative roles. The proposal also called for the seats reserved for the Homeless Providers and Shareholders Committee from 2, to 1, another seat that usually represents homeless services workers.

The overall effect was to replace almost all the homeless advocates on the board with even more bureaucrats, of which there are already close to 20. It would be misleading to say that this seemed like an overly popular idea amongst the CoC board, and frankly it's a bit of a mystery how this even came up in the first place. The proposal, which was not disclosed and voted on in a typical manner for the CoC, ignited yet another great debate at the meeting, and it was decided that the issue would be brought to the Broward County Commission sometime in the next month or two.

What will the Broward County Commission say about that? We hope to have more insight on that later.

County & City Dance Around Anti-Homeless Laws
One CoC Board Member who has not been seen much this summer is Broward County Commissioner / Vice Mayor Barbara Sharief. The Vice Mayor was actually pretty vocal this time, and, when weighing in on the ongoing quagmire that is the Fort Lauderdale Storage Ban Saga, said that she felt the County should do something right away to resolve this issue. But, she also felt the first step would be for the City of Fort Lauderdale should repeal the storage ban. And Fort Lauderdale Commissioner Dean Trantalis agreed. 

This is not the first time we have reported Commissioner Trantalis as saying that the anti-homeless laws of Fort Lauderdale should be gotten rid of. However so far very few people have continued to push the Commission on this issue and it just seems to be all talk. At this time, the homeless hate laws are not going anywhere until there's a little more pressure on the people involved.

Fort Lauderdale's Brightline/All Aboard Florida station
Fort Lauderdale's Great Homeless Displacement Master-Plan Isn't Looking So Good

Also worth mentioning is a fantastic new article by the Florida Bulldog. Martin and Indian River counties have been suing All Aboard Florida, the commuter train line that has been putting in huge new train stations in Broward, Miami, and Palm Beach counties this year. The case is not going well for All Aboard Florida and has led to speculation that AAF is running out of money.

This creates a peculiar scenario for the City of Fort Lauderdale. The All Aboard Florida station in downtown Fort Lauderdale is at the center of a development plan to completely re-make the areas that have been the primary spot for chronically homeless people to stay in the area for decades. What would become of this massive, half built train station, and the retail and condo properties planned for the surrounding blocks, if AAF collapses? What would the City, DDA, and other elite interests do if their primary scheme for permanently displacing homeless people in downtown, results in even more un-used and half-realized properties in the very area that was to be gentrified?

Our only insight at this time is that the train station facade would make for a lovely new homeless shelter.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Commissioner McKinzie Really Doesn't Like The Sistrunk Sharing

Last year, the Sistrunk Sharing was created as a synthesis between Food Not Bombs and Black Lives Matter activists. On the first Wednesday of every month, the sharing takes place at Lincoln Park on Sistrunk Avenue, and usually has some vegan and vegetarian breakfast foods, baked goods, juice, coffee, etc.

Much like Stranahan Park, the Sistrunk area has its own issues over what classes are best served and where. And so for the 2nd time this year, Commissioner Bob McKinzie dropped by the Sistrunk Sharing to let people know that he wasn't happy about us being there.
McKinzie and the rest of the City Commission
"We don't want this here." He then went on to let everyone know they were illegally parked.
This attitude towards food sharings from the Fort Lauderdale City Commission is not exactly news worthy. Yet it is quite rare that one of them would feel the need to come to the sharings in person, not once but twice, to express this.

McKinzie, for anyone keeping track, was appointed to replace Bobby Dubose during the sharing ban controversy, and so far has mostly distinguished himself as being perhaps the most overtly nepotistic Commissioner in the City. You can read, among other things, about McKinzie's cozy arrangement with the new caretakers of the troubled "Fort Lauderdale Chronic Homeless Housing Collaborative" here. He's also recently run into trouble for taking illegal campaign contributions from another long-time frenemy of the homeless advocacy community, the Downtown Development Authority. McKinzie is also one of the only City Commissioners who is not term-limited to 2018.

Sistrunk Sharing September 7th, 2016
For anyone even mildly curious, sharing food in the City of Fort Lauderdale in a public park is still quite legal. Despite the millions of dollars going into the Sistrunk area, things aren't changing that much for the community. It seems like we need more things like the Sistrunk Sharing and less things like politicians that serve the whims of corporate and developer interests.

Friday, August 12, 2016

DDA Extortion For Huzienga Plaza Begins

A shadow has been hanging over one of the "public" spaces in downtown Fort Lauderdale: Huzienga Plaza/Beaubier Park is at risk of being privatized. The Downtown Development Agency, facing a large shortfall over many of its projects, has been threatening to sell the property unless the City of Fort Lauderdale rents it out.

On Tuesday, the City Commission of Fort Lauderdale will formally vote on the request to rent the park from the DDA for $100,000 a year. The undercurrents of this situation are sad but predictable. The DDA has engaged in a series of boondoggles that have gone nowhere for years, including the WAVE streetcar, anti-homeless programs such as the "Ambassadorship program" and supporting the City's anti-homeless laws, and trying to get a new Federal Courthouse built.

The DDA claims they have to get this revenue from the Park to make up for the lack of taxes that they are collecting from downtown businesses, and have even suggested that if the City does not rent it that they will sell it to a developer. The DDA themselves are a veritable cabal of millionaire developers and property owners, appointed by the Fort Lauderdale City Commission.

What the fuck gives them the right to extort the City for $100,000 a year for one of its parks, or risk it being privatized?  Homeless hate laws take on many forms, and this is surely one of them. The DDA has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars the last few years making sure Riverwalk and Huzienga are well-guarded against unsavory homeless people. They've also made a spectacular effort to revitalize and gentrify the area, a noble effort if at any point there was any provisions made for the indigent people who already live in the area.

Will the City support this effort? In the past they have not acted particularly happy with the DDA's demands for help with their budget problems. But we're now closing in on the last year of Mayor Seiler's tenure, and how many times have we seen this City Commission get a proposal forwarded to them by the City Attorney, and supported by downtown's 1%, that they did not like?

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Stranahan Society Pt 2 - A New Shelter? And More

Following up on our recap on the first meeting of the CoC's ad hoc committee to address Stranahan Park issues...

Board Member Frank Pontillo talked at length about San Diego's ePATH program, which provides a full service shelter and sharing program. The real question is, is anyone else really serious about this? The City of Fort Lauderdale has staved off a new shelter program in downtown for 20+ years. Properties such as "The Tree," which is already a gathering place for homeless people, has languished for decades and is perfectly positioned. The Federal Courthouse is supposedly being knocked down and replaced. There are a number of interesting possibilities, but will anyone actually allow it to exist? It seems very unlikely.

Another thing that happened Friday was discussion over the "Broward Local Coalition." Mason Jackson of Career Source suggested that the business community should lead it. The business community, of course, wasn't there, but if you flip over the Downtown Development Authority's meeting notes you will see that they do seem interested in the issues - encouraging the sweeps of homeless people's property and discouraging downtown businesses from letting their employees share food with the homeless. Few would be against the reformation of the Local Coalition, which fell apart in 2009 or so, but leaving it in the hands of the same people who created the Homeless Hate Laws of Fort Lauderdale is abominable. We'll be keeping a close watch on that one, particularly considering how closely the DDA seems to be connected to the storage ban enforcements of the last few months.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

The Stranahan Society Speaks, Part 1

On Friday afternoon, the Homelessness Continuum of Care Board (CoC)  tried something a little different. They held a meeting that focused solely on the alleviation of the woes of Stranahan Park.

Friday's Homelessness CoC meeting took
place in County Commission Chambers
Although much of the CoC's business is done yards away from the largest population of chronically homeless people in Broward County, it is not a frequent topic of discussion for them. In fact, since many only meet once or twice a month and are constrained by Florida's Sunshine State Law, the CoC does not communicate directly with one another in the way one would expect executives from major homeless providers that collaborate together would. Some have staff for that sort of issue, but it remains a problem.

Friday qualified as a well attended CoC assembly with an audience at around 30. Homeless people and homeless advocates spoke about many things, including endemic problems in the HAC system that are well known to the homeless community (shelter representatives were in attendance but mostly silent). Also mentioned were property confiscations, the criminalization of homelessness, and complaints of over-policing. Relatively few homeless service providers or advocates from the Stranahan area were present. Absent was anyone from the Fort Lauderdale Women's Club, or any of the other homeless-bashing residents or business-people that frequented similar City meetings in the past.

Afterwards, CoC Board members addressed most of these issues amongst themselves. Ultimately, the Board chucked any vote (which would have to pass 2 more levels of County Government before having any possible legal authority) to an as-yet unscheduled 2nd meeting of the "Ad Hoc Central Fort Lauderdale Committee."

Several things of interest were discussed by CoC Board Members that should not escape notice.

Of perhaps greatest interest was discussion around the controversial enforcement of Fort Lauderdale's storage ban law - one of the original "homeless hate laws" that this blog was made in resistance to. Most present were in agreement that Fort Lauderdale needs to seriously revise the way in which they are carrying out these enforcements. Commissioner and Board Member Dean Trantalis claimed that this is already in progress, but did not say anything to suggest that these enforcements would stop anytime soon. In a separate comment, he did say that these laws were not working and were a mistake, but said nothing about simply repealing them.

Several others complained specifically about anti-homeless laws. The Board ultimately gave little focus to this issue, and one even suggested that there was nothing at all that they could do. (The Board has in fact been sitting on a letter that they have been intending to send to the Cities of Broward County discouraging them from creating or enforcing homeless hate laws, for about a year.)

Fort Lauderdale City Attorney Lee Feldman was present and apparently communicating with Commissioner Trantalis from the audience. After Feldman left, Trantalis said that he had been told by text by the City Manager that no enforcement actions resulted in anyone's property being thrown out. This is quite simply not true. The City Attorney should certainly be asked that question again sometime.

Representatives of the Broward ACLU and Public Defender's office were also present to register their discontent over how this situation has been handled. CoC Chairman and BSO employee Scott Russell said he would facilitate a meeting between law enforcement and these civil rights attorneys. The CoC largely waxed apologetic about the storage ban, but they still are not doing much about it.

Showers and restrooms were a topic that seemed to have some traction in the form of the Live Fresh Shower Truck program. Hope South Florida suggested that they would be willing to operate this program locally, and Commissioner Trantalis said he thought the City may be interested in paying for it. This would be an incredible investment for the City of Fort Lauderdale, which has not put any significant funding to new homeless services in years. Will the City really decide to spend half a million dollars a year to give homeless people showers while doing everything they can to get rid of the same people?

More or less glossing over the notoriety of our current shelter system, focus went towards the idea of asking the County to support a new homeless shelter in Fort Lauderdale. One Board Member envisioned a full service facility, with mid term and permanent housing, full time food services, and intake and social work specialists. Other board members felt the need to remind everyone that nobody is ever willing to propose a space for such a project and its too unrealistic, which felt a little like they weren't really there to look for solutions at all.

Incredibly, Commissioner Trantalis suggested that the City of Fort Lauderdale would support this initiative. He elaborated that he thinks that the City has learned from its mistakes in creating the anti-homeless laws of 2014 and that they were coming around to discussing alternatives. This would be quite a sea change if there were any merit to it...what few public statements the City has made about the homeless this year have not been encouraging. All sharing ban court proceedings are still dragging on, and will enter their 3rd year in November.

In fact, on the same day the Sun Sentinel reported that the City may put up to $176 million to renovate its parks in downtown. While the potential sales tax funds may also go towards programs like public transportation, that help the homeless, so far there is no indication that any of the money focused towards public parks would be used to create the very services that Friday's CoC meeting was talking about.

We're going to have some more analysis on this some time later in Part 2.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Call to Action: Stranahan Committee This Friday

The first meeting of the "Ad Hoc Central Fort Lauderdale Committee" of the Broward Homelessness Continuum of Care Board is Friday, 2:30 pm in Government Central - 115 S Andrews Room A337.

This committee has been set up in response to several months of complaints and hand-wringing at CoC meetings over the lack of progress on many issues in Stranahan Park, which has led to several enforcements on issues such as the storage of homeless possessions in the area. Although the advisory board is a limited bureaucracy that rarely takes fast action on much of anything, we hope that advocates for the homeless are able to stir some changes in this quagmire by attending and adding their outside voices to this meeting.

Afterwards, homeless advocates with Fort Lauderdale Food Not Bombs will be having their usual weekly food sharing in Stranahan at 4:30, followed by a debrief on the Stranahan Committee at 6 pm. We predict a unsatisfying and, at best, semi-productive meeting at Goverment Center and would like to follow up and hear people's thoughts on the meeting and what other actions can or should be taken to resolve Stranahan Park's many long-standing issues around homelessness, the City of Fort Lauderdale, and police actions.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

"The Stranahan Committee," Property Thefts, and More

As reported in New Times, more confiscations of homeless property took place last week. This time the police were not involved, underscoring the inconsistency with which these seizures have occurred since April. Since the items were hauled away in dumptrucks, recovery would seem to not be an option at this time. Fort Lauderdale Food Not Bombs is still collecting containers and luggage to try to keep up with the seizures.

If the reason was that the Women's Club wanted to clean things up for another weekend wedding, that must not have turned out as expected; aside from the usual Saturday afternoon piles of whiteboxes and water bottles piled up all along the fence, there was an extremely large and vocal Black Lives Matter protest happening at the same time as the Women's Club event.

#BLM954 protest at Stranahan Park 7.10.16  courtesy Dream Defenders
While the City seems content to drift into another summer session without re-addressing the mostly abandoned sharing ban, or the controversial storage ban, County homeless services seem to be taking a different approach.

Although the County's Continuum of Care Board has not had much of a response to the storage controversy so far, at the last monthly Board meeting, it was decided that an "ad hoc" Commitee would be established to specifically address issues at Stranahan Park. The Stranahan Commitee's first meeting will be Friday, July 22nd, at 2:30 pm at Government Center, and voices from outside the local government bureaucracy will be sorely needed.

BSO Captain, and CoC Chairman, Scott Russell, learning about
Live Fresh courtesty Sun Sentinel
A little over a week, the Live Fresh shower truck did a demonstration at Saint Anthony's Catholic Church. Unfortunately, the fluff stories on this welcome idea did not discuss the fact that this program does not currently have a means to move forward in Broward County. There would need to be a locally based non-profit to generate the donations or funding for the project, and to work out contracts with the various municipalities as to when and where they would perform their services, dump wastewater, and so on. At this time, there are not a lot of non-profit programs in Broward County that would take on such a task. Even if they would, it would probably take a better part of a year before this handful of toilets and showers would be available to anyone in the County.

We'll be holding on for a day when we can announce actual "progress" on these issues as opposed to "updates."

Friday, July 1, 2016

Storage Ban Recovery Updates

As previously reported, at least 6 people had their belongings taken from the sidewalk outside Stranahan Park last Friday. New Times wrote a report about it, however we are going to go into a few more details.

Food Not Bombs activists brought homeless people to recover their belongings on Monday, as reported, and again on Wednesday, this time recovering a bike that was put in the evidence room. Unfortunately several people whose belongings were taken seem to have already given up on getting them back and many things are still at the police station.

In both cases, activists reported that FLPD seemed to be clueless about how to handle situation, even going as far as saying that they did not know how to go about enforcing these laws on the street.

 As one activist put it, "My first interaction in helping someone get their property back was a cold unknowing indifference by the people who illegitimately stole it. The front desk didn’t have a clue, the evidence room didn’t have a clue, and we were forced to sit and wait for someone, anyone, who could help. Eventually, after nearly an hour of waiting, a sergeant strolls in, embodying the essence of flippancy and indifference, allowed our friend to rejoin himself with his blue huffy bicycle while seemingly lecturing him how “he must remember to behave himself” by virtue of his homelessness."

LAPD removing homeless people's property in Skid Row, 3.2016
from the LA Times
At this time, it would seem that the City isn't even enforcing the sharing ban law they passed but using existing laws about "abandoned or lost property" to clear things away when the Women's Club is having an event. As we've mentioned before, enforcing anti-homeless storage laws have been a lawsuit-riddled minefield for other cities. While we are NOT legal experts, it would seem that mis-applying even more laws to discriminate against homeless people is probably not going to work much better.

Will the City try this again, on a regular basis, or just when the Women's Club has a check to cash? Time will tell. While the City and County have both recently claimed that they are taking action on these issues, at this time that action has yet to manifest. July will be Month 3 for the City of Fort Lauderdale's attempts at enforcing a storage ban on Stranahan Park.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Illegal Theft of Homeless Property Continues. Who's Responsible?

Wedding Preparations at Stranahan Gazebo, 6.25.16
For months, the City of Fort Lauderdale has been attempting to clean up Stranahan Park by confiscating homeless people's belongings. Enforcement of the "storage ban," one of Fort Lauderdale's original "Homeless Hate Laws" from 2014, has so far been impossible, worsening the stalemate in downtown.

Perhaps the most effective way the City has been able to get rid of homeless people's belongings has been to use upcoming events at the Women's Club to declare that "clean-ups" are necessary and to clear the area for pressure cleaning.

This has been happening more and more lately, and this week Parks and Recreation came and stole homeless people's property, seemingly on the behalf of the Women's Club of Fort Lauderdale.

Now, the storage ban law does allow for untagged items to be removed if an area clean-up is going on, but they are required to give 36 hours notice. Residents of the sidewalk area were given 2 hours notice on Friday and then City employees came and threw the possessions of about 6 people into a truck and left. Supposedly these items are in the FLPD's "storage ban" location but since they are only open on week-days, no one has been able to confirm or get their things back yet.

Food Not Bombs has already been bringing blankets and clothes downtown to replace what was taken, and also intends to make trips to FLPD headquarters to track down what was taken and get it back on Monday. If anyone wants to help with this effort, blankets are needed anytime, and we'll be trying to organize rides to the police station for those that want their things back.

Who is Responsible?

As we have seen over the past few months, the FLPD does not seem to have a lot of enthusiasm for enforcing the sharing ban. Although City Attorney Lee Feldman is certainly having a part in ordering the FLPD to enforce these laws, he is also almost certainly aware that Los Angeles's "storage bans" resulted in expensive, high-profile legal losses and a drawn-out attempt to revise these laws to make them enforceable.

The Women's Club of Fort Lauderdale has been the main advocate for anti-homeless measures around Stranahan for years. They spent a quarter of a million dollars to get them out of the Park, they encouraged another 25 grand to be spent on anti-panhandling signs, and they supported each and every Homeless Hate Law when the City passed them. Now they seem to be side-stepping the City's legal responsibility to protect the rights of the homeless in order to make things look nice for the weddings they are booking in the Park, which is, by the way, still public property and not their's at all.

Replacing what was taken, 6.25.16
While "responsibility" is a bit hard to establish in a City where the wealthy are always conveniently unaccountable for just about anything, the Women's Club's history of actions and words about the homeless could be described as "reprehensible." The press has not exactly helped in that respect. And  this is not the first time where they seem to have encouraged City employees to violate the rights of the homeless in order for them to profit off the use of public property. The more the Women's Club books the very events they've been saying they need to chase the homeless away for, the more excuses it seems to provide for further abuse of the homeless.

Another entity bearing some responsibility, or lack there-of, for this quagmire, is the Broward County Continuum of Care Board, which as we've previously described, has a bit of a problem getting much done. The CoC has been keenly aware of the storage ban problems for some time, but June makes the third monthly meeting of the Board in a row where no meaningful action was taken. They have set up a committee to explore solutions to Stranahan Park, but couldn't decide on when it would meet.

The PONG (Performance Outcome/Needs Gap) Committee, which is supposed to work on homeless services that are not being provided, hasn't met since April. At the time of this writing, no one from the Continuum of Care Board can explain why, even as they have been quick to push responsibility from themselves to this Committee when it comes to urgent problems in downtown.

Theoretically, these County homeless services could simply propose to the County Commission to get some lockers donated and have them set up at the Library or any of a number of other County properties downtown, like parking garages or even at the shelters. None of these things seem to be happening anytime soon, no one in power seems particularly motivated to actually provide these services.

We'll let everyone know how attempts to recover homeless people's possessions from the FLPD go tomorrow, assuming anything is even there to recover.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Storage Ban Returns to Stranahan

2 months after their first attempt, the Fort Lauderdale Police Department again announced their intent to confiscate the belongings of the homeless people who live on the sidewalk along Stranahan Park on Friday morning. If their notices are to be believed, about 15-20 or so items are marked to be confiscated sometime on Saturday.

When this happened in April, most of the marked items were replaced and advocates for the homeless kept on eye on the situation for most of the day. Police ultimately took no action. It is unclear how the FLPD intends on enforcing this law on Saturday; no FLPD officers were apparent in the area Friday afternoon and we're way past press time.

One thing that's certain is that it certainly couldn't hurt to bring some new containers to people there again and attempt to once again negate this problem. In the past two months, the City and County have failed to intervene in any meaningful way and this problem has dragged on into Summer. For now, mutual aid and solidarity will have to prevent continued enforcement of this homeless hate law.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Breaking - Fort Lauderdale Misspent Half of HUD Funds for Sole Housing Project

Tucked into this week's Fort Lauderdale City Commission Agenda is CM5, "Motion to Approve Payment to Broward County in Response to Housing and Urban Development Office of Inspector General Audit Findings of the Chronic Homeless Housing Collaborative Program - $42,669.99"

The item's description shows that a recent HUD audit of the City's only federally funded housing program misspent $274,206 of its total funding, which in 2015 was about $450,000. The City is already voting to pay back $42,000 as suggested by the federal audit.

Documents regarding this situation can be found here.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Homeless Board Members Suggests Major Changes to Confront Bad Policy

While police enforcement of anti-homeless criminal ordinances in Fort Lauderdale is well-known, few concern themselves with the entities who are actually in charge of homeless policy for the area. For Broward County, that entity is technically the Broward County Commission. It is advised by the Broward County Continuum of Care Board, which meets once a month to talk about cooperative projects for homeless welfare. It consists of various groups such as the Broward Homeless Initiative Partnership (HIP), Hope South Florida, Broward Outreach Center, and others.

FLPD officer at last month's
"storage ban" debacle
The CoC's bureaucracy and avoidance of major homeless issues in its jurisdiction is, to most spectators, bewildering. However, this month's convening of Board Members on May 25th brought some unusual moments of clarity, in part spurred by recent events. 

The last monthly meeting of CoC took place not long after the Stranahan storage ban incident. Board members described something of a scramble to do something to discourage the city from going through with this effort. (Worth noting: City Commissioner Dean Trantalis was absent from this month's meeting.) However, on-the-ground advocates, including this blog, effectively stopped confiscations before they could begin. 

The CoC is under pressure since last fall's announcement that HUD fund recipients would be required from now on to report what their organization is doing to de-criminalize homelessness. The storage ban seems to be a "hard to ignore" moment for the Board, resulting in a meeting topic this month dedicated to the issue of "Alternative Solutions to the Criminalization of Homelessness." 

Many services that been long neglected came up, from storage facilities to showers and bathrooms to providing proper discharge aid for homeless people getting out of Broward County Jail. During the hour or so of discussion, several board members raised a point that is severely overlooked when it comes to Fort Lauderdale's meandering commitment to providing homeless services. The Continuum of Care actually doubles as the County's designated homeless advocacy entity, or "local coalition." However, because it is required to report to the County and is subject to Sunshine Law restrictions, they essentially cannot advocate anything to anyone except by passing on their wishes to the Broward County Commission. They essentially cannot even say anything directly, as an entity, to the cities that are criminalizing homelessness in their county.

As one Board Member put it "...when issues require the local designated coalition to take up what almost every coalition across the nation handle, and that's advocacy, that's being able to speak to commissions...on behalf of the homeless...we are not able to do so because of this forum."

In this way, the CoC effectively argues it is obstructing itself from doing its job. The unusual soul searching taking place was followed up by the Board's counsel making an interesting observation; Broward County boards are, in fact, reviewed every 5 years, and the CoC is due for theirs' sometime in the next month or so. 

Does the Broward County Commission need to review its mandate for homeless services to create a entity, distinct from what exists now, to be the County's "local coalition," and handle homeless advocacy work for the disprivileged? A few CoC board members seemed to think so. As one put it, "I cannot in good faith say that we are doing anything about the criminalization of homelessness...the federal government expects us to do something about it."

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Confusion, Fear, and Displacement

Here's an update from what's going on downtown from earlier in the week. Although BSO is indeed patrolling Broward Central Terminal, they have not taken over at the library (so far).

So far, it does not appear that BSO is taking a friendlier approach to homeless people in the terminal...if anything, its the opposite. Many people could be observed on Thursday being chased out of the terminal by BSO officers for "loitering."

Another development is that County outreach staff have been coming to the Stranahan area offering Rapid Re-Housing services. This is actually great news...and yet is a bit strange as there is very little money for this fund and little if any of it is usually allocated to the chronically homeless in the area who do not have children, aren't vets, etc. So, another as-yet unresolved mystery.

So far, no County, City, or police officials or spokespeople have clarified anything written earlier in the week or anything new posted here today. There are no press releases or new stories, save what is written here, and the word on the street.

The murkiness has led a lot of confusion and fear downtown. Many other unconnected occurrences have given the false impression that there's even worse things afoot. After the pressure-washing of the Stranahan sidewalk earlier in the week, the pay meters along that street were bagged off on Thursday. However it turned out the reason for that was that a car commercial that was shooting on that street...still, without any meaningful communication from anyone in the know, it created yet another strong impression that the sidewalks were being rolled up. There was also a meeting at the Women's Club on Thursday about traffic patterns that led to even more speculation that City fat cats were plotting still more attacks on the people downtown.

Really, this is just a glimpse of what it's like to be homeless downtown...nobody tells you shit. No matter what people are planning right next to these people's beds, they are almost never seen as human enough to extend the same courtesy that the wealthy people of Fort Lauderdale are sure to give to one another.

In spite of all this, there are some dark days going on downtown, with displacement being the name of the game. Placing homeless people in services is always right, but when the true goal, the true motive, is to achieve the impossible by permanently clearing the streets of Fort Lauderdale...public scrutiny and discourse is always necessary.
We urge everyone to keep their eyes the ongoings of downtown Fort Lauderdale...when we get more news, we will pass it on.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

A New Sheriff in Downtown? And Other Mysteries

Many strange things are occurring in downtown Fort Lauderdale, and at this time we don't have many answers.

First off, the biggest change is that Broward Sheriff's Office seems to have taken over policing for Broward Central Terminal and Broward Main Library. FLPD is still policing everywhere else, even right up to the property line between Stranahan Park and the Library.

Why? So far, this is unclear, and no one we've asked so far is providing answers. Is the FLPD being removed from handling some of the areas most frequented by homeless people downtown due to their bad behavior? What does BSO intend to do differently here? 

BSO at Broward Central Terminal, 5.16.2016
The mixed signals only get better from here, because at the same time the FLPD has been busy in many other places. Residents of the sidewalk in front of Stranahan Park, who just weeks ago were subjected to a half-hearted, bureaucratic attempt to take their possessions, were subjected to a much less complicated and successful attempt at displacement today. The City declared that the sidewalk needed to be pressure washed and that everyone had to move their things. Several also reported that the police also told them they would only be allowed to move their possessions back only if it was 2 small bags. It certainly seems a lot simpler and effective than using the city's "scarlet sticker" storage ban law. Still, the temporary move seems to be a peaceful transition for the being.

How or why City employees are trying to apply airline-esque baggage restrictions on homeless people that are living in that area is also, at this time, unclear.

FLPD's behavior is also not limited to the sidewalk. This week police have also suddenly started rousting homeless people from bus benches on Broward Boulevard, and have sharply increased profiling for panhandling and jaywalking in the same area. 

How and why are all these things happening at the same time? This too is unclear, but we hope for more updates tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Storage Ban Resistance Recap

Response since we first broke this story Monday night has been swift. Within a couple hours, homeless advocates and supporters began bringing tubs & suitcases to Stranahan Park. By early afternoon, all but 3 bags that could not be identified, were replaced. It was great effort by everyone and the people of Stranahan were very happy to see so much help coming to resolve this situation. If only it were like this every day.
Dean Trantalis, city commissioner,
and Marshall Schnipper, homeless advocate

Homeless advocates and camera crews stood by the entire day, but no confiscations took place. It would seem the amount of scrutiny these stickers created have, at least for now, dissuaded the enforcement of the sharing ban. Channel 10 even interviewed some homeless people about it. Fort Lauderdale City Commissioner Dean Trantalis also stopped by to see what was going on. The police were quoted by the news as saying something about how cleaning up debris is an important social service or something, but anyway they largely kept their non-confrontational approach on Tuesday.

Public reaction over the last couple of years has really been all-or-nothing; there was very little outrage when this law passed 2 years ago. But, it was never enforced, and enforcement of many of the other 2014 laws has been difficult to gauge. Trespassing, camping, and panhandling enforcement have all been increased in the last few years and easily create some of the worst suffering in downtown Fort Lauderdale. However these homeless policing activities rarely face much public scorn or scrutiny. 
We are actually still receiving interest from supporters about bringing more containers to the Park. While it seems like the confiscation threat is over for the immediate future, please be assured that any such donations would be readily accepted by people living around Stranahan Park at any time. Fort Lauderdale Food Not Bombs would also be happy to handle any such requests.

Monday, April 18, 2016

FLPD Announces Stranahan Homeless Property Seizures

 After a 2 year lull, the City of Fort Lauderdale appears to be finally be enforcing the "storage ban" it introduced in 2014 along with a slew of other anti-homeless laws. Homeless people who stay on the sidewalk in front of Stranahan Park were informed today that their property is to be confiscated under this law some time tomorrow.

The law says that these possessions will be put into storage at the FLPD headquarters and that homeless people have 30 days to come and reclaim them. As far as anyone knows, this law has never been enforced until today, and now only against the people of Stranahan Park. Rarely has so many laws been created against people in such a small geographic location....

Tensions were still high today at the park over this sudden announcement, with several people complaining about how, already burdened with medical problems and no transportation, they also expected to walk several miles to get their stuff back in the next few days. Many people were still sitting next to their marked belongings. One homeless man was seen debating a FLPD officer who was driving by at the time. Most said that they had spoken at length with an FLPD officer earlier in the day, who informed them what to expect, which was that if any of the marked trash bags on the sidewalk were not removed, they would be confiscated, perhaps as early as tomorrow morning.

Although the conversation was reported as amicable, the majority of the people on the street seemed very upset about this. One struggles to find the potential benefits to the enforcement of this law compared to the suffering created by separating a poverty-stricken person from their only possessions. One person said that someone from the Ft Lauderdale Women's Club had been complaining loudly recently about the amount of things being stored along the fence of Stranahan.

Another man had another perspective: "Our greatest enemy is the police."

Monday, March 28, 2016

Whacky 2018 Election News

Although the 2015 Fort Lauderdale general election resulted in a landslide for incumbent City Commissioners, 2018 sees most seats, including the Mayor's, open for the first time in years. Amazingly, Fort Lauderdale's political establishment has already started the election countdown. On Sunday, at 3 pm, the first Meet the Candidates event of the 2018 election takes place. 

Current Commissioner (and former FLPD police chief) Bruce Roberts, ex commissioner Charlotte Rodstrom, and occasional past Mayoral candidate Jim Lewis have already announced their runs to replace Mayor Seiler. During their tenure, Roberts and Rodstrom voted in lockstep with the City on anti-homeless laws, although Rodstrom left long before the 2014 laws were introduced. District 4, Romney Roger's district, also has a blue-blooded member of the political establishment announcing an early candidacy in Walter Duke, formerly a commissioner for Dania Beach. Clearly the political establishment is working way ahead of time to make sure the status quo remains unshaken in the years ahead. So far, one other outsider has announced their candidacy as well. Hunter Altschul, a young college student, is running against Duke for District 4. All these candidates along with (as advertised) Mayor Jack Seiler and Commissioner Dean Trantalis will be at the Annie Beck House, 1329 N. Dixie Highway, this Sunday, April 3rd, at 3 pm.

We look forward to seeing how the political future of Fort Lauderdale will effect homelessness in downtown.

Fear & Loathing in Fort Lauderdale

Not to go unmentioned, the Sun Sentinel wrote a pretty extensive story recently on the ongoings of Stranahan Park.  Focusing entirely on quotes given by Mayor Seiler and the President of the Fort Lauderdale Women's Club, the result is an insulting hit piece on the people who are stuck living in the area around Stranahan Park, who are continuously re-victimized as undesirable "problems" by their wealthy commercial neighbors.

While the story stretches to claim some bent fences and dead fish as news, it entirely omits the newsworthy fact that the area for homeless people to occupy around Stranahan Park has rapidly dwindled in the past year. More and more people and their possessions are packed on 1st next to the park, and it is indeed curious for a news story like this to come out that so thoroughly repackages the narrative of this ongoing crisis.

As we have been reminding people for awhile now, privileged individuals have been complaining and divising schemes to displace undesirable people from Stranahan Park for perhaps 50 years or more. Not much has changed.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

No End in Sight for Prosecution of Rebel Food Sharers

In November 2014, a handful of activists and homeless advocates were infamously arrested or ticketed for sharing food with the homeless.

While outrage over this issue has waned over time, at least 4 of the people ticketed at Food Not Bombs sharings in 2014 have been stuck in courtroom purgatory for 16 months as the City refuses to either drop their cases or bring them to trial. Defendants have experienced a never-ending series of status hearings that go nowhere, or no updates or calendar dates whatsoever for their cases, which held a maximum punishment of a $500 fine or 60 days in jail.

The City of Fort Lauderdale still has a resource page on its website to remind everyone how fair and necessary the sharing ban law is. But there is little explanation online, or in the courthouse, for why people who were arbitrarily punished for sharing food with the indigent in November of 2014 still have to retain legal representation and worry about how many more months, or years, they will have to wait until they get a day in court.

The sharing ban law, along with so many other City Municipal codes that target homeless activities, has always been, and still is, unfair. By contrast, the last Florida Congressional elections took place the same week as these arrests, and their terms are nearly up while these minor civil infractions drag on.

Price Tag Solution
On a related note, the Sun Sentinel published a story today, extensively quoting Mayor Seiler and other public officials, claiming that $11 million dollars is all that is missing for Broward County to permanently take care of all the homeless. If this sounds ridiculous to anyone than you haven't spent nearly enough time with anyone involved in the Broward County Continuum of Care Board, which is eternally convinced that massive government spending is all that is needed to help homeless people. True to the standards by which the media has covered homeless issues in the area, this 1,000 word essay is composed entirely of quotes by individuals whose job and reputation depends on painting a cheery picture on homelessness in the area.

No homeless people were quoted. Solutions such as opening the thousands of empty buildings in the County do not exist in this appraisal. Mayor Seiler is quoted as saying he will "consider" this funding, of which Fort Lauderdale would pay about $500k/year.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

New Report on Anti-Homeless Laws in Colorado

Studies on homelessness tend to focus on taking censuses and gathering statistics on things like drug addiction. However, one interesting type of analysis is the study of anti-homeless laws.

In 2014, The National Law Center on Homeless and Poverty's study "No Safe Place" collected and compared anti-homeless laws across the country not long before Fort Lauderdale's sharing ban was introduced. Around the same time the National Coalition to End Homelessness also published "Share No More: The Criminalization of Efforts to Feed People In Need."

While it is fair to say that most of the general public did not take notice, it was these methodological studies that made awareness of homeless hate laws through other means, such as attention grabbing headlines, petitions, and memes, possible.

Someone, after all, had to count all these cities that banned sharing food. And its very rare that anyone is collecting data on homelessness in a way that leads to a critical understanding of how governmental agencies are perpetuating poverty.

Last week, law students at the University of Denver, affiliated with the Homeless Advocacy Policy Project, published: "Too High A Price: What Criminalizing The Homeless Costs Colorado." There's a lot of great information in it, and a lot of will sound very familiar.

- Colorado sounds a lot like Florida when it comes to passing laws across numerous local governments. The study found over 350 anti-homeless laws in cities across the state, to an average of 6 per city. In spite of this Denver is still the only city in the state with restrictions on sharing food with the homeless. It seems like almost every city in America has some kind of interest in passing anti-homeless laws.

- Colorado is also not very "liberal" when it comes to enforcement. Despite the fact that cold weather is a deadly danger to homeless people in Colorado, police forces across the state enforce anti-homeless rules that can have deadly consequences for the person cited.

- Colorado, like most other local and state governments, has accepted enormous expenses towards enforcing anti-homeless laws. The study estimated that 6 Colorado cities spent at least $5 million on enforcing these laws over a 5 year period. A comparable study of Florida cities, which has 5x the population of Colorado, would likely make that cost seem small by comparison.

Occupy Denver camp eviction, 2011
- Where ever we look in America, anti-homeless laws are discriminatory, disproportionate, and dystopic:

"...Denver arrested nearly 300 homeless individuals in 2014 for panhandling. Between 2013 and 2014, Denver issued over 2,000
trespass citations to homeless individuals. This represents more than half of all trespass citations in the city even though homeless residents are only 0.05% of the population."

It makes one wonder what Floridians could really learn about the true cost of homelessness across the state. Here's a very simple (and un-academic) example of what that might look like; if we took the number from this 2014 study of homelessness in Central Florida of $31,000 per homeless person per year, and multiplied it by 2014 Point in Time statewide count from the same year, 41,335, we get 1.2 billion dollars.

Locally, Fort Lauderdale runs a massive municipal court system that racks up citations against indigent people at an astonishing rate. By now the City has also racked up hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees for defending itself against suits filed against the City for its 2014 food sharing ban law.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

All Saints Soup Kitchen Disrupts Oakland Park City Commission

All Saints' Soup Kitchen has been facing an escalating trend of harassment and enforcement actions against it in the year or so since the City of Oakland Park's attempts to shut it down began doing some real damage. Today, the mission still shares every day inside the church, but its soup kitchen remains closed and the parish complains of a lot of intimidation tactics from Broward Sheriffs' Office.

Wednesday, during Oakland Park City Commission's public comments section, Father Bob Caudill  of All Saints' led a disruption of the meeting  to protest the city's lack of conscience. Most of the city commissioners left the dais during this protest, even as the majority of the people attending the meeting stood in solidarity with Father Bob. See the video:

The fight for All Saint's Soup Kitchen is not quite over yet, so if you haven't already stop by 3460 Powerline Road in Oakland Park to join the fight.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Homeless Fenced Off for 2016

What follows is a survey of some of the commonly used spaces by homeless people downtown. For a long time, the area in the vicinity of Fort Lauderdale City Hall and Broward Central Terminal were occupied by dozens of homeless people, who have very few places to spend their days and even fewer to spend their nights; for many, the parking lots and sidewalks North of Broward Boulevard are all they have.

With the development of "All Aboard Florida" just getting started, virtually every space the homeless people inhabited that was not a piece of sidewalk North of Broward has been roped off in the last few months.

The overhang entrance of the disused building on the NW corner of Andrews & NE 1st Street, directly across the street from City Hall.

A few months ago this empty, disused parking lot on the SW corner of Andrews & NE 1st Street was re-paved, re-planted, and eventually, fenced off. 

The block between City Hall & Broward Central Terminal is mostly parking lot and the old building pictured earlier. Prior to a year or two ago, they were disused and one of the larger spaces homeless people occupied in the area. Fences have gradually chipped away at public access until finally in the last month or so there is nothing left. This was the last space left at NE 1st & Brickell Ave and it now carries a trendy new logo for the upcoming development effort.

On the NE corner of the same block, at NE 2nd St & Andrews Ave, this public parking space has been removed entirely to discourage the homeless people who have slept here over the years. The parking meters have been removed and a fence encloses the lot.
Immediately North is the former "One Stop Shop." The City owns the whole property and claims they are in the process of selling it for redevelopment. Some people want it turned into a new park. It is perhaps one of the only spaces frequented by homeless people in the immediate downtown area that hasn't been fully fenced off.

 On the NW side of the One Stop Shop is "The Tree." Although it hasn't been fenced off, homeless outreach services provided in coordination with the City of Fort Lauderdale at this location were cut over the summer and only a few homeless people spend much time here anymore. So to re-state this, the City demanded that homeless services stop over 6 months ago and absolutely nothing has changed here whatsoever.

This leads us back to the area of Stranahan Park. The Main Library is now a very rare thing in downtown; a public space, that is not a sidewalk, that homeless people are allowed access to during the day. Frequent police patrols targeting the homeless do not make this very friendly. Riverwalk is also accessible, yet there is also private security watching over people in that space as well.
On an average day, only a handful of homeless people (or absolutely anyone, really) can be seen using Stranahan Park. It remains a ghost park most of the year.

In many times over the last few years, the amount of people who spend the day on the sidewalk in front of Stranahan Park has been low. Since the fences went up North of Broward, the amout of people here on the daily has increased a bit. There are now a couple dozen people there every day.

During this time no other spaces have been created as an alternative for the chronically homeless, and the people leaving jail in downtown who have no place to go.

Although the County has increased its attempts to house veterans and the very ill in downtown, there are no proposals at the County or City level to deal with the fact that most homeless now only have sidewalks to sit on all day.   

This trend is only likely to continue with the development of the train station, the designed purpose of which is to turn Fort Lauderdale's skid row into a gentrified cityscape for Broward's upper class.