Sunday, June 14, 2009

Did the deputy mayor really encourage
homeless people to sleep in the parks?

Artwork by sadler0

"In doorways of shops in downtown St. Petersburg, Fla., one finds people sleeping and urinating amid piles of filthy blankets and empty bottles," the USA Today article begins.

The article looks at efforts in many cities throughout the country to get tough on people they describe not as homeless but as beggars. They're passing laws to clear city streets and make residents feel safe as they go about their business.

The laws are called heartless by some who say cities should instead pay for vagrants to have housing and other forms of help. "Many people are being forced to live out on the streets," said Tulin Ozdeger, civil rights director for the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty. Penalizing them, she said, violates the U.S. Constitution and is inhumane.

The most notable part of the entire article is a quote from St. Petersburg Deputy Mayor David Metz, who said the city changed its laws because of an increase in complaints by businesses and residents about public drunkenness and public nuisances. He acknowledges there are not enough beds in shelters to accommodate all those who want them (the city says it has 2,200 people living on the streets), but says there's no reason for them to move onto a sidewalk.

"We are blessed to have (34) public parks in downtown St. Pete, and there's nothing to prevent any individuals from using those facilities," Metz said.

Is he really encouraging homeless people to sleep in St. Petersburg's parks?

Read the USA Today article here. And check out Alex Pickens' post here -- in fact, check out all of Alex's blog, Will Report for Food.


At 7:42 PM, Anonymous Alex Pickett said...

Thanks for the props!


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