Last year, Tampa, Florida — which had the most homeless people for a mid-sized city — passed an ordinance allowing police officers to arrest anyone they saw sleeping in public, or “storing personal property in public.”
I look forward to seeing all of the parallel parked citizens arrested.
The article over at Nation of Change is very positive. It describes a new Utah program to house people and provide social workers. But first the article lists other programs that have been recently implemented around the country. This Tampa one struck me because ‘storing personal property in public’ is such a common activity. I’ve lived in San Francisco where people overwhelmingly use street parking, and it is a fiercely fought over commodity, generating arguments over permits, parklets, construction and bus lanes. I’m fairly sure this law was not applied in that context however. Have you ever stopped to think how much money is spent on paving roads, grading curbs, and assisting people to store their car in the public space? How many miles of lanes of public parking are in your town? Have you had a neighbor who parks his boat/trailer/car that doesn’t drive on the street?
Appearing better off gets you advantages. Cars, boats, RVs, etc are a more valuable class of property and thus supported by the city, and when someone has so little, what they have is begrudged.
Programs like the one described do not fix the problems; they shift and change the problem. The city and people still have to pay for the arrests, and cleanup the area. Investing in long-term improvements, facilities and assistance programs for the individuals can actually be cheaper. Homelessness in America should be fixable – we have the facilities and ignoring it isn’t free.
I’m excited to see how Lava Mae will do in the Bay Area.