Thursday, February 9, 2012
The Homeless of Tampa, Florida
In the game of homelessness it is safe to say I've been around. I have seen places that were very homeless friendly and effective in fixing the problem. I have also seen places that are not so homeless friendly. Tampa, FL is the least homeless friendly place I have ever seen. By far, Tampa was the hardest place for me (and from my understanding, MANY other homeless people as well) to survive,. The homeless people I see here are beat up and beat down, hard.
I have come to a few conclusions about why this is. I have concluded that the biggest reason is because the "homeless haters" of Tampa, FL do not just dislike the homeless, and would like nothing more than to push them out, but also have loud mouths and the ears of the law makers and city council here in Tampa hear them well. For some reason (probably money) the law makers and city council listen to them. This bad attitude and support with power has led to a very difficult life to live for the homeless here in Tampa, FL. I believe that was what they wanted in the first place to create a difficult life to live for the homeless, in an effort to push them out.
Recent laws on pan handling, news stories with public comments, polls, and the overall bad attitude of Tampa, Florida (regarding homelessness), have all led me to this conclusion, along with my research in the making of this blog post.
Homeless haters, law makers, and city council here in Tampa run around the homeless problems but they are clueless. They make decisions and pass laws that make no since at all, in an attempt to solve the homeless problem by pushing the homeless out. The reality of it however, is that they are actually making the problem worse.
Recently, Tampa, FL passed laws that restricted pan handling. They (city council) said it was to keep people safe while in traffic (homeless people and drivers). I only had a chance to see the last month and a half of this homeless bashing via T.V. But what I saw on T.V. was, in my opinion, one of the biggest waste of time, resources, and tax payers money that I have ever witnessed (I want to be rude right there, but I'll keep it to myself). A clueless city council member who could not think of anything better to do (literally), along with a bunch of homeless haters with nothing better to do (literally), actually got the ban passed.
The ban is simple. No one is allowed to pan handle 6 out of the 7 days of the week. Its OK to do it on Sunday (go figure). This ban did NOTHING. People just walk around here all the time, and to me it is actually safer to J walk. The traffic here is the worst you can imagine. I dare anyone to stand on ANY intersection , push the button, wait for the little man to pop up, and try their best to cross the street without getting hit. I DARE you! You are likely to die, VERY likely to die, homeless or not.
So, here we are, a room full of "great minds" and homeless haters passing a ban against homeless people that pushes them off the sidewalks and into property where there are even more laws that restrict homeless people from being. Tell me where - exactly - in Tampa the homeless people are allowed to go? Homeless haters will say right now "out of state".
What happened here is that the homeless haters of Tampa, FL all got together with a bunch of people with power, not understanding of the problem, and made life hard for all homeless people. It's that simple! I could not help but think to myself, that when it was all over, if these people had spent half as much brain power fixing the homeless problem in a holistic way, as they did making it worse, they could have accomplished so much!. This is just one of the many attacks on the homeless here in Tampa, Florida, that I have found.
I also like to keep up with the local homeless issues here with the news. From time to time I'll go to a local news stations' website and look around. When I do find a homeless story (and there is always one) I like to read the public comments. It helps me understand how and what the local residents think and feel about the homeless people in their area. If you want to see a nasty bunch of homeless haters you should do this.
LOL, one comment that appears over and over is this: "do us all a favor and leave our city" (a homeless hater telling the homeless to leave). I see that one all the time in the Tampa comments regarding the homeless.
But look, I'll show you what I mean. This is an actual story I found that was done by a local news team a few years ago:
Six homeless people backed by a handful of advocacy organizations filed a federal class-action lawsuit against the city this week that challenges the constitutionality of a series of ordinances that target homeless people.
The city has passed six ordinances that restrict some behaviors associated with street homelessness in recent years, including measures that limit where and when the homeless can sleep and the amount of personal belongings they can keep by their side.
'What has been happening in St. Petersburg over the past couple years is one of the worst examples nationally of widespread abuse of homeless persons' civil and human rights' said Tulin Ozdeger, civil rights director for the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty, one of three organizations representing the city's homeless. The Southern Legal Counsel and Florida Institutional Legal Services have also sided with the homeless.
The lawsuit, filed in Tampa, claims the city's ordinances violate various constitutional protections, including freedom from cruel and unusual punishment, freedom from unreasonable searches and free speech.
Ozdeger said the ordinances also fail to provide sufficient guidance for police officers, which encourages arbitrary enforcement.
"We feel that we have a very strong case," she said.
Advocates hope a judge will grant an injunction against enforcement of the ordinances and declare them unconstitutional.
Responding to complaints about public urination and sidewalks crowded with dirty blankets and clothes, Mayor Rick Baker and the City Council rallied for tough restrictions against the homeless in recent years. The city's legal department vetoed some suggestions, deeming them unconstitutional.
The ordinances that were passed were carefully crafted and should hold up in court, said Mark Winn, the city's chief assistant attorney.
"We are not surprised by any of the allegations in there," he said of the lawsuit.
The 63-page complaint is the latest example of the sometimes difficult relationship the city has had with its homeless. The city gained nationwide scorn in 2007 after police slashed homeless people's tents, and advocates have staged protests downtown.
The lawsuit claims the city regularly searches the homeless without probable cause and makes arrests for public urination though the homeless have nowhere to use the bathroom. Their belongings have been snatched from city parks and public areas without adequate notice and without information how to retrieve them. The homeless also have been ordered to move, under threat of arrest, from public places where they are lawfully allowed to be, according to the lawsuit.
The named plaintiffs are Anthony Catron, Charles Hargis, Michael Lile, Ferdinand Lupperger, Jo Anne Reynolds and William Shumate, a popular homeless leader in downtown St. Petersburg.
At Williams Park on Thursday night, patches of homeless people reclined in the public square. Told of the lawsuit, they expressed hope life on the street would get easier.
"I ain't never been nowhere like this, with the rules and regulations," said Nygee Shabazz, 50, a drifter who's been in St. Petersburg about 15 years. "We are pawns. We are nobody."
Comments to this post include:
Wow! Homeless in St Pete for 15 years.
That's using the safety net as a hamock.
If the city doesn't do something about these feral people nobody will want to go down town.
It's discusting the way they have taken over Williams Park.
Anonymous May 22, 2009 8:30 AM
This is great. The city provides homeless services at taxpayer's expense that attract homeless people from around the country and then the homeless people sue the city. You cannot logically expect to stop homelessness by attracting more homeless.
Anonymous May 22, 2009 8:53 AM
There you go Bill Maxwell. The homeless have a civil right to disrupt the lives of the homed. Or at least they have lawyers who deem it their duty to inflict these poor vermin on the rest of us. Let em move into these vile lawyer's houses.
Anonymous May 22, 2009 8:55 AM
Why don't these advocates have the homeless camp and hang out on their property if they care so much. Sorry, but the homeless are a blight on business and tourism. I am sick of my taxes going to fight these lawsuits. They don't contribute to society
Anonymous May 22, 2009 9:39 AM
Why isn't this front page news?!?!! What's wrong Times, don't want to bring attention to this issue, only to the hit and runs that fit your social agenda?
Anonymous May 22, 2009 9:40 AM
Shabazz... you've been homeless for 15 years, living off the kindness of others... sounds like it is time for you to grow up.
Anonymous May 22, 2009 9:52 AM
The poor homeless eat three times a day. They have free showers, free beds (if they want it) free blankets, pillows. Most will tell you they have a sweet deal and there is not reason to work, unless you go to every corner and see them begging for $
Anonymous May 22, 2009 10:28 AM
So the rest of us have to step over them if they want to lay on the sidewalk? This is nuts. Working folks have the right to enjoy life without having to deal with the scummy, scary homeless. There are bathrooms by the st pete waterfront they can use
Anonymous May 22, 2009 10:57 AM
Funny I never quite saw these rights in the constitutional, however is it not my constitutional right then not to pay for their upkeep. Ergo if you do not like the rules and laws where you are move on, it's your right to do so & we won't stop you!
Anonymous May 22, 2009 11:35 AM
Being homeless is a sweet deal? You rushing out to join their ranks Maury?
That said, I wonder if I have a Constitutional right not to have pan handlers knocking on my doors at night begging for money or throwing stuff at my car when I tell them no
Anonymous May 22, 2009 12:35 PM
Wow; there are some truly heartless people here! I don't normally think this way, but I sincerely hope that all of you become mentally ill (yes, it can happen to you), lose your housing and come up against people just like your former selves!
Anonymous May 22, 2009 1:06 PM
There are more homeless citizens than available services. Many are veterans, disabled, or unemployed because of lay offs. It could happen to anyone of us. Rich or poor, no one deserves to be harassed for merely existing. Homelessness is not a crime
Anonymous May 22, 2009 2:39 PM
If people who have homes and jobs and sukch have a responsibility to the homeless what responsibility do the homeless have to the taxpayer? Go visit San Francisco to see what lawyers create when they force crazy panhandlers upon the rest of us.
Anonymous May 22, 2009 3:05 PM
Every other homeless man claims to be a veteran. Liberals like to buy into this lie 'cause it serves their causes. The truth is the vast majority of "homeless veterans" know the lie is worth a few extra bucks and a bucket of sympathy from Danell.
Anonymous May 22, 2009 3:22 PM
So the homeless have a right to urinate in public? What if the public should exercise their right to urinate on the possession of the homeless. How many "advocates" would defend that right?
Anonymous May 22, 2009 4:15 PM
They need to get a life & I don't think the working
folks need to pay for the freeloaders. Give them a time frame to get it together & then a bus ticket out of here.
Anonymous May 22, 2009 4:16 PM
If they don't like the way they are treated do us all a favor and leave our city.
Anonymous May 22, 2009 4:23 PM
Threefuries from Tallahassee might be right so lets help them out and ship them to tallahassee and see if you stay as liberal as you are now....I suspect not, should they be camping( and urinating ) on your doorstep!
Anonymous May 22, 2009 5:28 PM
Roy, get a grip.
Nobody said any of us SHOULD be urinating in public. But when there's nowhere else to go... St. Pete is sadly one of the finest examples of a failed society: homeless people on the street AND empty buildings everywhere.
Anonymous May 22, 2009 7:28 PM
I've been a life long resident & am disgusted by the aggressive "homeless". They have options (Pinellas hope) but most DO NOT want to live by the rules & want an easy ride. I spend my hard earned money everywhere but downtown St. Pete..Pitiful!!
Anonymous May 22, 2009 7:34 PM
To Mike from St Pete: the homeless DO have options!! Most want a hand out & not a hand up. Why don't you open up your home & lead by example. I am empathetic to those in need but am also realistic to this sad display of entitlement to harass.
Anonymous May 22, 2009 7:46 PM
Kahunna: Well said & on point!!!!!!
Danell: You're right, Homelessness is not a crime but harassment by aggressive vagrants is! Besides, most of there signs read "Why lie, want beer". I am over it!!!
Anonymous May 22, 2009 8:24 PM
Homelessness, like skateboarding, is not a crime - but it ought to be! Danell, there is a war on so the supposed vets should re-enlist. The more services you provide the more it attracts. Try feeding a stray cat one day & see what happens.
Anonymous May 22, 2009 11:06 PM
These dregs of society should all be collected and shipped off to a work camp and made to clean our roads and perform other community work. I don't feel sorry for them one bit. Most want to be homeless.
Anonymous May 22, 2009 11:08 PM
Between the homeless and preditor parking ticket writers (police) I never go downtown.
Anonymous May 23, 2009 3:24 AM
DO NOT buy that "veteran" bit for one second... as a vet myself, and an active vets' advocate, take it from me that if they are homeless, it is entirely their choice to be. And most are simply frauds who feel entitled and NEVER even wore the uniform
Anonymous May 25, 2009 11:16 AM
did any of these city officials offer food, clothing or shelter to these people? Any charity organizations in the area that couold help? How much did the taxpayers pay for them to draft the news ordinances? What happens when 1000 more come to town?
I hardly ever seen the local news report any good that's being done to fix the problem here in Tampa. When I ask myself why that is the only answer I can think of is "because there really is nothing good in way of this problem going on". But you can see by this what the homeless people here in Tampa, Florida are up against.
I have recently seen this link:
where this statement was made:
The metropolitan area with the highest rate of homelessness was Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Florida, at 57 per 10,000 people. Among the states with the highest rate were Oregon and Hawaii, at 45 per 10,000 people.
The national rate was 21 per 10,000 people.
I'm pretty sure that if you look around you will see a lot of data that supports that statement. And by this you can see the problem is not only real but also not going away anytime soon. All you have to do is look around Tampa and see that the problem is huge here and the solutions to fix the problem (if any) are going nowhere fast.
Recently I spoke with someone who said that the biggest reason there are so many homeless people here is because of the winter weather. To me, that makes since. In an effort to survive the streets and stay warm, homeless people will come to Florida. I have actually seen people talk about this often as they were about to become homeless and thought about how they would survive. I can see a "soon to be" homeless person coming here as a way to survive and getting stuck very easily! This weather factor is not likely to change. The weather might be a very big reason for the problem, but it has nothing to do with the solution.
Now, if you are thinking I'm going to say something here like "there is no help here in Tampa, Fl," then you are wrong. There is help here in Tampa. If you are homeless here and IF (that's a big IF) you have the resources to look for that help, you will find it eventually.
Nonetheless, I still have to say this: most of the help here comes in the form of simple resources (shelters, food, clothing) and yes, this is mostly done by the local churches as far has I can see. It is quite obvious, however, that there is little help coming from other organizations. Sure, there are some, and YES, some are even effective, but I have found that the organizations are limited, and also the problem is simply too big for them to handle by themselves. Simply put, (and I'm sure most EVERY SINGLE homeless person here in Tampa will agree), if you are homeless in Tampa, Florida and you look around hard enough you will survive the day to day struggles of the homelessness life. However, you are highly unlikely to get off the streets.
So what needs to happen here in Tampa, FL to get this problem fixed?
One, we need a city council member who understands the problem for what it is and also uses their brains to work out the problem. That would be a start.
Second, unity of the resources and organizations that are available. Now, I realize that's very unlikely to happen, but I can still hope. These resources need to pull together and figure out a way to be seen and utilized by NOT just the homeless here, but also the average citizen who wants to help. Today a friend sent me a blog link, and in that blog I read this statement:
"Collaboration rather than isolation; working to fill the gap with other agencies. As collaboration happens there needs to be effective needs assessment to determine what the true need is rather than the perceived need. Clothes and food may not be the real need".
I find a lot of truth in this when I think about Tampa. This is a basic anti-homeless structure, effectively used by not just small groups and organizations, but also by entire cites. I have seen it used. It is effective. Tampa, FL simply has not figured this out yet, or they have, but the homeless haters here have bashed this concept down in their attempts to move the homeless out.
Last, the hatters here need to stop crying about it, and stop leaving the problem to the few local churches and small organizations that do help. The homeless haters here in Tampa have large mouths and it's a shame that they have so much attention and influence over the law makers and city council people here. The homeless people of Tampa, FL are not going anywhere. Whether they (you, homeless haters) like it or not. And believe it or not, these solutions I propose now are easily said and easily done. If you live here in Tampa, I challenge you to take a good look outside your window and consider that what I tell you now is a truth. I believe you will see it yourself.
The following is my personal favorite homeless hater here in Tampa, Florida. Here is a very smart man that was in favor of the pan handling ban. He is easy to find on FB and you can see there (if you don't believe me here) that he makes all his nasty statements public.
"my area has been "scum" free now. If they do come back I don't have a problem calling the popo or the mayor."
another by him:
- " both my wife and I have been to intersection of hillsborough & 56. They are working it. They also run fast and ditch their signs at the mall Denny's. Like roaches, but and with no vests."
and another (YES, this guy is my favorite hater):
"stores pay taxes, lots of them, have inspections, health codes, collect sales tax, employ people, and are a benefit to the community. what do panhandlers/hawkers in the streets bring to our community, crime, don't pay taxes, cheat welfare, rob stores of customers so stores have to lay off employees, don't collect taxes, don't have licenses, don't pass health codes, and when injured will sue not only the driver, but the city too. our city council and lawyers are morons"
Here is one from one of his responders:
- "That panhandler may also be a sexual predator, murderer, or wanted. I'd like to get the scum off our streets"
And here is the first nut some more:
"Well, at least our city council are consistent, at being ignorant morons."
"Well, I was right, some yo-yo is going to print a special newspaper for panhandlers., so they can still be in the streets. City Council, Mayor, you suck."
"As I sat in Burger Kings drive up yesterday (for over 20 minutes) one of the bums that "sells" a paper IN the streets walked up to the drive up window and demanded to be served, as he was "starving". It is against Fl law to serve anyone that just walks up to a drive up window, but then, these bums really don't care about our laws here in fla, and our officials don't really care about enforcing them."
I've seen quite a bit while here in Tampa. I see a huge problem with homelessness. I see a huge problem with the attitude about the homeless. I also see a lot of people that support that bad attitude. However, I also see people that do want to help. The people that do want to help are all one their own, it seems. They don't get support. They are simply left to deal with the problem. While the ones that do not help cry their little eyes out, throw fits about it, and make things worse. WHOOOO HOOOOO BOOOOOO HOOOOOO!
I want you to know that I did not take this post lightly. I thought long and hard about what I wanted say. I also want you to know that in an effort to make sure what I'm saying was accurate I talked to quite a few people. Yes, these were prominent people, and yes, for the VERY most part, they agree with me. From Executive Directors, to cops, to homeless people, to a few public leaders, across the board there is a wide range of opinions. However, I have found that most everyone agrees when I say "Tampa, FL wants to push the homeless out" and "the law makers and city council of Tampa do not want to do the right thing, largely on account of people that are against the homeless". It is simply much easier to push the homeless out, and make homelessness someone else's problem, than to actually THINK about how to fix it, and fix it. What's funny is that the law makers and city council of Tampa has not done either.
Dear Tampa FL homeless hater,
If you want the problem to go away then I suggest you stop crying. Instead of wasting your time trying to push the homeless out you could actually do something to help fix the problem. I'm willing to bet that if you had that attitude you would find yourself in a whole new, very enlightened, life as opposed to being part of what's making the problem worse, and being the half witted, wimpy, cry babies you are now.
Dear Tampa city council and law makers,
Stop passing laws that are based on the half wits above, then standing around scratching your heads wondering why the problem is getting worse and not going away.
Dear homeless helpers,
I think you do a great job with what you have. But this should not be simply left to you to deal with. I see you all have good solutions for the day to day struggles of the homeless. But what the homeless here in Tampa need (and clearly do not have) are long term solutions. Resources and events that are going to help take the homeless people out of the problem. Tampa, FL can be a great place, even with the homeless problem. I believe that very much. People like communities that care about people.
Usually I don't get like this. Usually my tone is much different. I'm just fed up with the crying and the people that support that attitude. As you can see by looking around it has not gotten anyone anywhere. The crying hasn't stopped anymore than the homeless problem solved.
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