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West Palm Beach proposes ordinance to prohibit camping and sleeping in public areas

Homeless man sleeping in West Palm Beach.
Posted at 6:08 PM, May 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-03 23:22:54-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Across from the downtown West Palm Beach waterfront along South Flagler Drive is where Elizabeth Hubbard lives.

“On the outside of them double doors right there,” Hubbard said while pointing to an outdoor complex.

Her days start at 6:00 a.m. Her focus is surviving.

“Then go straight to St. Ann's, take a shower and eat some breakfast,” she said.

Hubbard says she first started experiencing homelessness 10 years ago after losing both her parents.

“I took care of them for so long until they passed,” she said. “When I lost them, I lost everything.”

She says she’s currently on waiting list to get into a shelter, but in the past, she’s missed the call and had to start over.

“Every time she gets a handout or hand up, she has to wait,” Hubbard said. “So, imagine waiting for two or three months and not knowing when you’re going to get that hand out so you’re like okay let me move to the next section the next area to see if I can get some help.”

Francky Pierre Paul, an advocate for people experiencing homelessness says stories like Elizabeth’s aren’t uncommon. He’s concerned about an ordinance proposed by the city to prohibit sleeping and camping in certain areas.

“There’s no solution. You know you’re criminalizing homelessness down here,” he said. “All you are doing is pushing people out to other districts, other counties, behind somebody’s backyard.”

The agenda states that enforcement would only be applicable after the city has undertaken significant outreach measures, including offering social services, housing, or shelter assistance where available.

“The thing is, the resources is there, but it’s scarce,” Pierre Paul said.

After waiting for several months for a placement, Elizabeth says she is now at the top of the list. She is hoping to make it to that date.

“I want to do what Francky does and help people,” she said.

Click here for a list of resources for people experiencing homelessness