Rescind New Law Criminalizing the Homeless

Target: John P. Seiler, Mayor of Fort Lauderdale

Goal: Reject a new law that criminalizes the homeless community

The Fort Lauderdale City commission recently passed a law that makes it illegal for individuals to store their personal belongings on public property and permits law enforcement to confiscate anything stored on public property for longer than 24 hours. The individual will be required to pay the city “reasonable charges for storage and removal of these items,” but the fee may be waived if the individual proves they are unable to pay the fee. If the belongings are not retrieved within 30 days, they can be discarded. According to the legislation, one main reason for this new proposal is the city’s “interest in aesthetics.”

The mistreatment of the homeless has transformed from a social norm to a systematic issue.  According to a recent report, two thirds of homeless people say they have been discriminated against by private businesses and law enforcement. This sort of mistreatment will never stop if there are laws that criminalize people simply because they have nowhere to put their belongings. It is necessary to devise a more compassionate way to address the widespread issue of homelessness.

For many of these individuals, the possessions they carry around with them are all they have. This regulation is a backwards way of addressing a major issue that affects many Americans. Demand that lawmakers reject this new law that criminalizes the homeless community.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Mayor Seiler,

The recently passed city ordinance 14-0538 is cruel solution to the issue that you feel is negatively affecting your city’s aesthetics.  This law specifically criminalizes the homeless for having nowhere to store their belongings. For many of these individuals, these belongings are all they have.

According to a recent report, two thirds of homeless people say they have been discriminated against by private businesses and law enforcement. This law will ensure the continual systematic discrimination of the homeless, rather than dealing with the widespread issue. It is essential to develop a more considerate way to address homelessness.

Please do not let concern for the city’s image precede simple humanitarian rights. I am urging you to reject this new law that criminalizes the homeless community.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Brian Talbot via Flickr

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One Comment

  1. Personally I do not like involving situations where people throw their weight around at the unfortunate-When I was 12-19 yrs. old I’d catch the bus to get to my ballet classes, and would run into many homeless people who were definitely not equipped socially, emotionally and physically to even keep an agenda for work perhaps. Some have lived in Psych. units for most of their lives, at Hospitals and had numerous shock Tx, without family and absolutely no supports. This is an absolute shame – on – you situation to make charging the poor homeless people for wanting to keep their small possessions. (which some were Teachers, Lawyers and various professions earlier in life) who were at one time avid contributors in society and then something grave happened to them. Whether you believe it or not, EVERYBODY (including me and you) has a story! The homeless don’t bother me if they are out with their shopping carts, carrying on through the life they have-in fact-Does anybody out there think these people made a good plan to become desolate and penniless? I think it is safe to say “NO”. People do not choose this homeless life, Life took them there. Instead of driving by feeling pity and anger or sadness, either provide one of them with a little nutritional food, plus $5.00/cash and wish them well!

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