Target: Tampa City Council
Goal: Do not allow police officers to arrest anyone sleeping or storing personal items in public
Early in July of 2013, the Tampa City Council passed a measure called Item #60 that enables officers to arrest homeless people who sleep and store their personal property in public. This criminalization of homelessness has caused outrage throughout the city, prompting protests that have included elementary school children handing out flyers that asks the public where the homeless are supposed to go. This new ordinance must be condemned as many other cities such as Miami have been influenced by it. If measures such as this become widespread, prisons will become overcrowded and have drained resources because of an overflow of non-violent “criminals.”
Homelessness has continued to be a burden in Tampa, Florida. Many studies have found that Tampa and many of the surrounding neighborhoods have the highest rate of homelessness in mid-sized cities. The main reasons for this is because homeless shelters are not affordable and permanent housing is also quite pricey. Furthermore, homeless shelters are always full nightly. The Tampa City Council did not include in Item #60 the need to fund new shelters and affordable housing.
Many observers have conveyed the opinion that Tampa is one of the hardest if not the hardest place for a homeless person to survive. The City Council has lacked any real effort to constructively address and mitigate homelessness. Instead, it passes laws such as Item #60 with questionable constitutionality that serves only to drain prison resources and cause overcrowding. This systematic attack on the homeless by Tampa city politicians and legislators must be stopped. Please sign this petition to condemn this criminalization of homelessness and show support for constructive ways to address the issue of homelessness.
Dear Tampa City Council,
We condemn your decision to pass an ordinance, Item #60, that allows officers to arrest any person they see sleeping or storing their personal property in public. It is not a crime to sleep on public property. Furthermore, the criminalization of homelessness does not address the structural problems that cause it.
Homelessness has hampered Tampa City for a long time. The lack of affordable homeless shelters and permanent housing are two primary reasons for the prevalence of homelessness there. Item #60 recognizes that existing homeless shelters in Tampa are full nearly every night, but it fails to include any funding for the construction of newer and more affordable shelters. Imprisoning the more than 7,000 homeless people in Tampa and surrounding neighborhoods will only put a drain on prison resources and cause overcrowding. Furthermore, other city councils have emulated your attack on homelessness through their own respective ordinances. We condemn this anti-homelessness bill and urge you to reconsider how to address the problem of homelessness and constructively mitigate it in future generations.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: barrenenchea69 via Flickr