Thursday, January 19, 2006

Homeless in Sarasota

There has been a lot of talk recently about the National Coalition for the Homeless recent ranking of Sarasota as the "meanest city in America". Their full report can be found here.

From the report:

The Meanest Cities

Although some of the report’s top 20 meanest cities have made some efforts to address homelessness in their communities, the punitive practices highlighted in the report impede progress in solving the problem. The top 20 meanest cities were chosen based on the number of anti-homeless laws in the city, the enforcement of those laws and severities of penalties, the general political climate toward homeless people in the city, local advocate support for the meanest designation, the city’s history of criminalization measures, and the existence of pending or recently enacted criminalization legislation in the city. Over the past year, the practices in the following top 5 meanest cities stand out as some of the worst examples of inhumane city treatment of homeless and poor people:

#1 Sarasota, FL.
After two successive Sarasota anti-lodging laws were overturned as unconstitutional by state courts, Sarasota passed a third law banning lodging outdoors. This latest version appears to be explicitly aimed at homeless persons. One of the elements necessary for arrest under the law is that the person “has no other place to live.”

Homelessness is a national problem and many communities are looking for ways to help. Sarasota has excellent resources for helping people. We have the largest facility (Salvation Army) in Florida for providing beds, No one has ever been turned away from this facility. Services for treatment of chemical dependency and mental illness are available for all. Meals are provided in abundance.

While there is always more that can be done, Sarasota surely ranks high on the list for providing assistance for the homeless.

If this topic interests you, take a look at the report then talk to a few of the service providers in Sarasota. You may even wish to volunteer in some way.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I questioned this ranking too,but after reading the letters to the SHT and the city's blog, some by city employees, there does seem to be a climate of animosity and anger towards the homeless.