Bill backed by Gov. DeSantis to address homeless crisis under scrutiny

A new bill proposed to help with Florida's homeless crisis is backed by Governor DeSantis but is under scrutiny by some homeless advocates. 

During the Fiscal Committee meeting, state lawmakers spent Thursday afternoon discussing Senate Bill 1530. 

Earlier Thursday, the governor was praising the bill. 

"We are not going to become San Francisco where homeless are everywhere," said Governor Ron DeSantis. 

Over the last year, cities and counties across Florida have passed ordinances that would limit where homeless people can camp. Now, the state is considering a measure to crack down on public sleeping in Florida. 

"You don't want the homeless intruding on quality of life, public safety, businesses, and the economy," said DeSantis, "That has to be the firm line that you have." 

If passed, Senate Bill 1530 would do a few things. 


First, sleeping or camping on public property without a permit would be illegal.  A person or business could sue the city or county if people aren't moved. 

"So, it effectively makes being homeless illegal," said Bryan Hampton of the Christian Service Center. 

Homeless advocates say that part of the bill is concerning because it further limits where people can go. 

For example, cities like Apopka don't have a homeless shelter, and places like Orlando have limited bed space. 

"Then what does the city or municipality do with those unsheltered people? You can't just throw everyone in jail. You can't just bus them all out of town," said Hampton. 

Which brings up the second part of the bill. 

It would authorize cities or counties to establish designated homeless camps if passed.  The sites cannot be established in places that could impact nearby property values. They must also have security, sanitation services, and mental health services. All of that would come at a price tag. 

The City of Tampa opened a temporary homeless tent camp during the pandemic. FOX 35 reached out to ask how much an operation like that costs. The city and partnering advocacies estimate it costs about $60,000 per month to serve 100 people. That's about $600 per tent. The city did the pilot for two months during the pandemic, but for a year, it would have cost about $720,000 for that one site. 

Gov. DeSantis told FOX 35 the state would chip in for some things. 

"Would I be willing to help with things like mental health? I would be willing to do that from the state level," said DeSantis. 

The bill also allows a city or county to claim financial hardship when considering campsites, but some believe it could still leave local leaders with two financially difficult options. 

"If it gets through Tallahassee, cities will have to figure out what's the risk. Do we risk being sued or find the money from other services being provided and use it here," said David Schorejs, Pastor - First Baptist Church of Apopka. 

If passed, it would take effect October 1. 

We reached out to local municipalities. Representatives from Orange and Seminole Counties say they're monitoring the legislation.