Another one bites the dust, criminalization of homelessness happened again in another Florida community!
Tampa held it’s second reading & comment period on July 18, 2013 & the local advocates & homeless were seen but bot heard by the media!
Except the Examiner reporter who told it like it was about the lack of objectivity in the Tampa “main-stream” media who were in attendance, covered the proceedings, interviewed folks & reported a one-sided viewpoint.
Local advocates tried to get their point across:
- Most of the morning was spent answering questions and proposing better solutions to homelessness, taking pictures, and stressing again and again that jail is not the answer.
- “Most shelters in the Tampa Bay area charge $10 to $42 per night for a single person. They aren’t free,” Tasha Rennels told Bay News 9.
- “18 out of 25 shelters cater to a specific need such as domestic violence or mental illness, and those are important, but there aren’t shelters available for people who can’t afford housing.
- Lack of affordable housing is the biggest problem.”
- “Jail does nothing to solve the problem. It only tries to make the problem invisible. It’s not even a Band-Aid,” said Heather Curry, Ph.D. student at USF.
Here’s the outcome of the City Council “listening” to all the comments from the Tampa Homeless Advocate community:
The homeless advocates were disappointed with the decision, but the most stunning disappointment came with reading the news articles and viewing TV segments that covered the demonstration. The media that covered the story was glaringly one-sided, giving substantial air time and word count to supporters of the ordinance, and for the most part ignoring arguments put forth by the protesters.
“I am very disappointed with the lack of objectivity. These articles are obviously very one-sided and did not include anything we said as far as why it’s bad legislation or what a real solution might look like,” one of the demonstrators stated.
Why were they disappointed in the media coverage of this latest criminalization attempt (in Florida)?
Homeless advocates gathered to oppose Item #60, drawing reporters and photographers from Bay News 9, WFLA News Channel 8, ABC Action News, the Tampa Bay Times and the Tampa Tribune. Most of the morning was spent answering questions and proposing better solutions to homelessness, taking pictures, and stressing again and again that jail is not the answer.
After over an hour of debate, the new ordinance passed with a 4-3 vote, with council members Mulhern, Reddick and Capin first trying to get a 90-day continuance and then voting no when they failed to delay the vote.
Starting somewhere? So criminalizing homelessness (& not being able to enforce) via the new sleeping ordinance is “starting somewhere”, it’s starting NOWHERE except demonstrating that Tampa City Council will let ordinances be passed that show a lack of compassion for the homeless, citizens of their own community who often don’t have a vote.
Options presented in discussion to move them out of the county (previous Council commenters at the earlier (first reading at the previous) City Council meeting even mentioned the “inhumane” (our characterization) Safe Harbor solution (either implementing it there on land they already have available in Tampa) or now “busing” “them” out of the county with an option to bring them back daily to “work” or get services here were the proposed item for consideration!
NOT! As shown above everyone who truly cares about the fate of the homeless who can’t get in shelters, don’t want to go there & must sleep outdoors is NOT THE ANSWER!
The ONLY community in Florida that gets it is Jacksonville, who signed up for the national 100,000 Homes Campaign! Housing First at its best!
The city has no plans to create temporary or transitional housing. Council members also acknowledged that Tampa’s shelters are already full on a nightly basis, with up to 100 people on a waiting list to get a bed. The ordinance’s supporters responded that the law will not be enforced if there are no shelters available, and that another option is to take the homeless to a shelter outside of city limits. A police officer stated that “the city will provide resources” to a homeless person taken to a shelter outside of the city to get back the next day if the person requires city services, but no plans have been put in place. Council member Charlie Miranda waved off concerns, stating, “We have to start somewhere.”
- How can an art campaign cover up the design of a flawed & inhumane approach to dealing with homelessness? | Tampa art students to design Safe Harbor fundraising campaign | Tampa Bay Times (homelessnessinsavannah.wordpress.com)
- Are you ready to: Change Someone’s Life | TOGETHER. SHAPING THE FUTURE. ONE JOB AT A TIME. (homelessnessinsavannah.wordpress.com)