DeSantis backs crackdown on homeless encampments

Published on February 6, 2024 at 10:39 am

Gov. Ron DeSantis says he supports legislation to crack down on homeless encampments in Florida.

During a news conference Monday in Miami Beach, he spoke in support of a bill that would ban cities and counties from allowing people to camp or sleep in public parks, sidewalks and streets. The measure also allocates money to shelter and mental health resources for the unhoused.

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DeSantis says he doesn’t want Florida’s public space to end up like San Francisco.

“I take it as kind of the dad test. Can I just take my kids and walk down the street to see shops, you should be able to do that every place without having to worry about homeless or being accosted by somebody,” he said.

While he is signaling broad support for the bill, DeSantis did call out one section that would allow municipalities to designate certain areas where homeless encampments are permitted.

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“But what we don’t want to see in the legislation is any incentive to create homeless camps, particularly in areas that would interfere with the public conducting normal business,” he said.

This isn’t the first time DeSantis has weighed in on legislation moving forward this session. He recently voiced concern about the legality of a measure banning children under 16 from accessing social media. House Speaker Paul Renner released a statement signaling he is willing to “narrowly craft” legislation to get policy passed that leadership in both branches agree on.

When asked about how he’s adjusting to being off the campaign trail, DeSantis told reporters his priority has been getting back in the saddle.

“That’s just the type of guy I am. Whatever I have an opportunity to make a difference I’m gonna do. You’re not gonna see me go on some like hibernation where I’m like saying ‘oh woe is me,’” he said.

While DeSantis signaled some disapproval with elements of the anti-homeless encampment bill, it is unclear if he would use the veto pen if the current version went to his desk. He’s not the only one with concerns. Opponents have pointed out the bill puts a heavy burden on local governments.

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Tristan Wood is a senior producer and host with WFSU Public Media. A South Florida native and University of Florida graduate, he focuses on state government in the Sunshine State and local Panhandle political happenings. Before joining the WFSU team, Tristan spent three years covering the legislature with outlets including Florida Politics, City & State Florida and Fresh Take Florida.

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