Florida to ban homeless from sleeping in public places under new law

Gov. Ron DeSantis signs bill into law in Miami Beach
homeless man sleeps in Miami park with blanket over him, Jan. 22, 2022
Posted at 1:07 PM, Mar 20, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-20 21:54:22-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Gov. Ron DeSantis has signed a controversial bill that forbids homeless people from sleeping in public places and prevents local governments from interfering.

DeSantis signed the bill into law during a news conference Wednesday morning in Miami Beach.

HB 1365 prohibits counties or municipalities from allowing people to camp or sleep on public property. Instead, it authorizes counties to designate specified areas for homeless encampments that cannot exceed a year.

"Florida will not allow homeless encampments to intrude on its citizens or undermine their quality of life like we see in states like New York and California," DeSantis said. "The legislation I signed today upholds our commitment to law and order while also ensuring homeless individuals have the resources they need to get back on their feet."

person sleeps in makeshift shelter on park bench in downtown Miami, Jan. 25, 2024
A person sleeps inside a makeshift shelter on park bench Thursday, Jan. 25, 2024, in downtown Miami.

DeSantis was joined during the bill-signing ceremony by Miami Beach Mayor Steven Meiner and Florida House Speaker Paul Renner, R-Palm Coast.

The law, which takes effect Oct. 1, opens cities and counties to civil liability if they don't ensure homeless sleep in special state-approved sites. Those areas need bathrooms, running water, security, medical care, drug and alcohol prohibitions, and more.

Although the legislation doesn't include penalties for those experiencing homelessness, critics suggest local governments would have to create them to ensure compliance. They also believe this is a cruel and costly way to deal with the homelessness problem in the state.

Republican backers said they're trying to leverage and pool community resources into areas of access. They also claim it'll ensure public areas are safer and cleaner.