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Statement on Proposed Homelessness Ordinance - Vote No - Ordinance identifies the problem but offers no solution

January 24, 2022

The proposed nuisance and homelessness ordinance that comes before the Leon County Commission tomorrow is not ready for approval and should be voted down. The ordinance identifies the problems - panhandling, public camping, and other nuisances - but offers no real solutions. The primary solution being offered only adds new laws and criminal penalties. 

Commissioners should reject the current ordinance and send it back to find thoughtful solutions that will decrease the public nuisances it tries to address.

The proposal claims to have no budgetary impact, which can’t be accurate. The increased criminal penalties include a jail sentence. Putting people in jail costs significant taxpayer money that could be used for temporary housing or other programs for people experiencing homelessness. 

People who choose to live outdoors are often dealing with untreated severe mental illness or addiction. Putting them in jail only overburdens a facility that is not designed to treat either of these conditions and is not well-equipped to improve living conditions for anyone. 

By creating brand-new criminal charges in this proposal for those who already have no place to live, this policy would only make it that much harder for our most vulnerable to find stable housing and employment after being released from jail. 

This ordinance makes life more difficult for all involved - people dealing with homelessness, deputies tasked with enforcement, corrections officers dealing with an increased high-need population, and the public who will see more nuisance issues as offenders are shuffled from one place to another throughout town. 

The recent increase in panhandling, camping in public, and other public nuisances is a major problem and it deserves well thought out solutions. This ordinance as proposed does not offer sound long-term solutions and needs more work.

County Commission Agenda Item Link: Ordinance Addressing Public Health and Safety Issues, Including Issues Related to Homelessness

David O’Keefe, CPA
Candidate for Leon County Commission, District Five
david@davidforleon.com
850-329-0788

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Paid For by Committee to Elect David OKeefe for County Commissioner
517 E College Ave, Tallahassee, FL 32301-3652
850-329-0788
david@davidforleon.com
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