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Sitting Ban to Curb Homelessness?

How far is too far for local governments to go in an effort to reduce the visibility of homeless people on their streets? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section.

According to Metropolitan Ministries, there are more than 25,000 homeless people living in the Tampa Bay area. And with jobs scarce and economic woes continuing, that number keeps growing.

As local governments grapple with their own ever-shrinking budgets, some are taking strong measures to put out no vacancy signs for their homeless populations. Panhandling bans, for example, are in effect in many Tampa Bay area communities, including Tampa and Pasco County.

While homeless shelters exist, many report they are operating at capacity. Metropolitan Ministries estimates more there are 1,500 beds for homeless in Hillsborough County. Even so, some 8,000 homeless go without shelter each night, the agency estimates.

In nearby Pinellas County, the problem has become daunting for some governments to handle. Trying to balance the rights of residents, the need for public safety and services for the homeless has led to what might be seen as a tipping point.

The city of Clearwater, for example, recently sealed off public restrooms in some parks, according to The Tampa TribuneThe measure was meant to entice homeless to move on to greener pastures. Even so, the city still faces a homeless problem.

Enter the latest proposal: a ban on sitting and laying down in some public places.

Although not yet set in stone, the ban proposal has raised some eyebrows.

Pasco and Pinellas county public defender Bob Dillinger is against the idea.

"Arresting the homeless is the most expensive way to address the problem and the least effective," the Tribune quoted him as saying.

In Sarasota, the City Commission decided in 2011 to remove benches at Five Points Park to discourage homeless sleeping in the park, and  Residents at a commission meeting this week expressed concern about the problem shifting where folks are now lying down, sleeping and some even say camping outside of  across the street from the park.

What do you think? Too much government intrusion or a good solution to a growing problem that other communities should follow? How would you address the homeless problem throughout the Bay area? Let us know in the comments section below.

Cisco July 25, 2012 at 01:11 AM
Are you homeless?
William Smith July 25, 2012 at 01:33 AM
Round them up and send them to a work camp. While at the camp they will have an opportunity to earn the social services and counseling that some on this opinion board think they need.
rick barasso July 25, 2012 at 01:43 AM
Does anyone else get nervous, anytime the solution to a problem in the USA begins with "round them up". It sounds like a dangerous road to head down. Just ask the Blacks, Native Americans, and Japanese...
Cisco July 25, 2012 at 02:09 AM
I thought you rested your case a couple of hours ago.
Annette G July 25, 2012 at 02:29 AM
People who see enemies everywhere they look say things like "round em up". Must be pretty sad to wake up in their world every day. Afriad of everyone who isn't exactly like themselves. I don't fear people. I don't think there are simple answers, but I'm willing to work on the problems. I have a plant nursery, a 20hr a week job at UF in Gainesville, a couple rental properties, and I spend every extra minute I have in the public plaza doing volunteer work. I don't think just voting is enough to be a good citizen. I also don't think the "round them up" mentality fits in a democracy. Maybe it's just easier to bark than actually work on the problems. I am well informed and hard working - if that spells "lefty" then that's me.
Lynda July 25, 2012 at 03:29 AM
Thanks for a good dose of reality, Annette. You are doing what it takes to live in a healthy community. When reading all these negative comments, it is really great to know some people are trying to be good citizens, working hard and staying well-informed.. I do feel sorry for people who can only visualize simple answers such as "round them up!" when faced with complicated problems. Unfortunately some of them get elected to various offices with power over our lives.
Dad of Three July 25, 2012 at 04:37 AM
For Peter, who said "Many panhandlers are drug users." That is maliciously absurd, and just as absurd as someone who might say "Many Roman Catholic Priests are pedophiles." No, some Priests are pedophiles, and some panhandlers are drug users. Stop the hyperventilation and distortion, and if you are going to call President Obama a "socialist" then you obviously don't even know what a socialist is, or what they advocate. Mr Obama is slightly to the left of center, in the same way that former GOP Senator Chuck Hagel was and current GOP Senator Dick Lugar is slightly to the right of center. Mr Obama is even loathed by the extreme left of the Democratic Party, because he is far too reasonable for their ideology. One problem with views such as you have expressed is that extremists in our country, whether extremists on the right or extremists on the left, love to do name-calling of anyone outside their belief structure, so that true centrists become characterized as "liberals" to the extreme right, and they become characterized as "conservatives" to the extreme left.
Peter on Riverview Blvd. July 25, 2012 at 01:25 PM
What is hateful about getting a panhandler a job?? Someone described a panhandling "a job"...... (Good grief)..... What do they accomplish? Someone wrote that Obama is "left of center"........ And you expect us sane people to believe that ?? Back to the subject...... YES - YES - YES.... Many panhandlers are drug users looking for more drug money.
Quentin July 25, 2012 at 11:30 PM
que the loony tunes music we got a live one!!!!
Quentin July 25, 2012 at 11:36 PM
It's because it is hateful in the lefty world for everyone to work for your own success, The government must give out money and resources to everyone who does not want to work or fend for themselves. It is in the Lefty bible, make the ones who work for a living pay for the perpetual freeloaders. They BUMS are useless they do not want to be useful they are freeloaders let them go be BUMS in another place. My city should not be mobbed with the garbage that only wants other peoples money because they do not want to work for it themselves. When offred jobs these BUMS always refuse or do not show up NOT ONE wants to work. all you bleeding hearts let em live in your garage you want to help.............oh you don't want to help that much huh? only want to give them our money. forget that crap move em down the road. you whiny social activists can go with them.
rick barasso July 26, 2012 at 12:09 AM
Any psychiatrist will tell you, the reason people use derogatory and demeaning terms like the "N" word, Bum, stupid, ugly and various terms for women, is to compensate for their own inferiority complexes. If one can make others seem less than equal, it makes the speaker feel more superior.
Quentin July 26, 2012 at 01:43 AM
OR they do not prescribe to YOUR altered lefty views. Call a spade a spade and you'll never be misunderstood. guys like Barasso are just too ignorant to to move forward. You are not able to learn anything because you are too far gone. Any Psychiatrist will tell you elitist look down their nose at the working class subjects are just insecure trying to elevate themselves by faking intelligence. it's called Barassoing
Annette G July 26, 2012 at 02:06 AM
Like it or not Quentin and Rollo, people like me put in more than 40 hrs a week and still do volunteer work and know the various stories of the homeless from first hand experience. There are hard core long-term homeless burned up by years of drug or alchol abuse - the ones you like to insult and call bums. You don't know their past lives - you'd be surprized, no I take that back because you would refuse to believe they had families and careers once, were decorated veterans too some of them. Many others are temporarily homeless due to lay-offs and foreclosures. There are as many types of people living outside as there are types of people inside. If it makes you feel like tough-guys, like you're the only realists around, then go right ahead and bark that they are all useless bums. What you think doesn't hold a candle to what other's actually know from experience and what we actually DO. The world will change around you and you'll be just as grouchy and clueless about it as you are now about the homeless.
rick barasso July 26, 2012 at 02:10 AM
I have to tell you, I love it when people like Quentin prove my points over and over again. They do make it pretty easy to seem intelligent. So to Quentin, Thank you I yield the remainder of my time in this debate to Quentin. I love it when people do my work for me. I guess I am a socialist! I highly recommend it...
BlFalconskeep July 26, 2012 at 02:36 AM
Most of us are 2 paychecks from being homeless. When swallowing your pride and asking for money to get a snickers bar and a 2 liter of cheap soda to feed yourself is all you have left, come talk to me. Go walk just 1 week in someone that has lost everything's shoes and see if you can live honestly and just ask for money to help get through a day. Oh....and see how fast you can get a new job without an address. Its a blast, you should try it.
BlFalconskeep July 26, 2012 at 02:44 AM
Why are you looking to Tallahassee and Washington for a solution? We as a community, each individual community, can address and conquer this by themselves without higher ups sticking thier noses in it. Anytime big government gets involved, it boils down to what they think is best for that community and not what really is. Gods! Suck it up folks and lets take back our communities and help each other without crying to the state or feds to bail us out! Do all of us really think we aren't competent of taking care of our problems locally? If so we are all truly doomed.
Cisco July 26, 2012 at 02:51 AM
So you see a psychiatrist.
BlFalconskeep July 26, 2012 at 02:57 AM
ok answer this one...why is it if a man stands on a corner with a sign saying "Homeless, need work" people call him a bum and he seldoms gets the work he is asking for but if a woman stands there with a sign saying the same thing, then a large percentage of the male population is asking her for a "date", many of the female population call her some choice not so nice names, and the police ask her if she is soliciting? Doesn't a woman need a job too? And yes, there are women out there now in growing numbers that are homeless, desperate for work and scared of being on the street.
BlFalconskeep July 26, 2012 at 03:03 AM
I truly pity you. I have seen more humanity in the hearts of these people you call "bums" than in your comments. I know quite a few homeless that do not do drugs, they do not drink, they help anybody they can and work thier asses off to get off the streets only to have what they have saved up to get stolen and denied employment because of lack of address. I don't think you could last a day in the conditions the homeless have to live in.
rick barasso July 26, 2012 at 03:05 AM
BIFYou are making some very good points, but you know there are a few individuals on here that will come back with something "really funny" to say about that last comment. Did you see the one by NCI ESS (REALLY FUNNY TAG) about "So you see a psychiatrist." I was holding my sides laughing at that one...
BlFalconskeep July 26, 2012 at 03:56 AM
No shame in seeing a psychiatrist =) From what I hear a bunch of shrinks go to other shrinks to deal with thier jobs. Makes sense. Of course a bunch of other shrinks I have known come to see the bartender instead of other shrinks. Bartenders charge less ;)
Linda July 29, 2012 at 08:12 PM
60 years ago,as a child, I watched as my Mother gave a sandwiches and cups of coffee to the vagrants or bums,as some said, who came through our little southern town. They were polite and usually did some little chore as payback without being asked. Most were just guys without jobs. Today is a different story; studies have shown most of today's homeless (vagrants) are mentally ill and/or drug addicts. Most have relatives who would help but won't accept the rules of civilized living. Some have been kicked out of the family as the family can't take anymore of the drugs, lying and criminal activity. Very few are actually former good citizens who have come upon hard times. There are government agencies for helping. In a way thats unfortunate because the Christian church was the main source of help for unfortunates 70 years ago. Now the fed gov't won't accept "faith based" help. The ACLU stopped doctors and families from placing mentally ill people in mental hospitals. They feel its better to have insane people walking around the streets, scaring the normal people. Peeing on the steps of public buildings and using the public library as a bed and breakfast. Vagrants have made our lovely library into a smelly , scary place. I never go there without my husband as dangerous looking, ill men hang out there day and night. Answer is simple; put the mentally ill in caring facilities where they HAVE to take their medicine.
phyllis August 01, 2012 at 10:40 PM
I can relate -I saw an article last week about a guy who was bragging that he made $60,000 a year tax free begging on street corners
phyllis August 01, 2012 at 10:53 PM
I've often thought if I ever hit lotto that I would buy a huge piece of property to farm and have many houses built around the perimeter for families to occupy while being employed by me to run the farm and that they would also have access to what ever crops they needed to feed their families--it would be run like an extended family but with rules of behavior to maintain safety for all--that's just my dream
phyllis August 01, 2012 at 10:58 PM
Rollo-there are more people on THIS BUS than you and we don't all agree with your attitude in general--we're all here to try and offer suggestions to a serious problem so please let's all be civil
phyllis August 01, 2012 at 11:00 PM
my truths may not be yours-but they are true just the same--it's a matter of how we see things
phyllis August 01, 2012 at 11:04 PM
they tried the work for welfare years ago in NY and found out that by the time they deducted for daycare and transportation expenses it just wasn't worth it --it cost more to do the paperwork and people still couldn't get out of the system
phyllis August 01, 2012 at 11:09 PM
trade school is not the place that meets the needs of the population--the jobs that we are so short of help is in the medical fields and the science fields
phyllis August 01, 2012 at 11:15 PM
have you ever handed a panhandler a business card of a place that was hiring--I did several times and it wasn't appreciated

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