Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Orange County didn't get votes
to push out homeless

Commissioners in Orange County are trying to get homeless people out of wooded areas surrounding neighborhoods.

Some county leaders wanted to give deputies the power to clean the homeless out of the woods, but they didn't have the necessary votes. A majority said they had no interest in “criminalizing homelessness,” as Commissioner Lui Damiani described it.

Commissioner Ted Edwards wrote a letter to Mayor Teresa Jacobs asking her to add additional, specific language to a current no-camping ordinance. Edwards wanted Orange County to adopt laws similar to the city of Orlando where it’s illegal to camp on public or private land without permission.

“You would have individuals walking through you yards, pilfering things, petty crimes,” Edwards said.

But commissioners expressed worry that enforcement would bog down deputies. Sheriff Jerry Demings spoke out, saying “The camping ordinance in Orlando is no silver bullet for dealing with homelessness.”

Some social service advocates also opposed to the idea, including United Way President and CEO Bob Brown, who said it was not a “realistic or feasible” way to deal with the problem of homelessness. Read Bob Brown's letter here.

Read the WDBO report here and the Orlando Sentinel report here.


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