Florida Governor Ron DeSantis Criticizes California’s Homelessness Crisis

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has expressed his concerns about the homeless issue in California as he introduces new legislation aimed at addressing a similar problem in his own state.

According to an annual report from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Florida was among the four states that accounted for more than half of the total number of individuals experiencing homelessness in the United States in 2023. In the same year, Florida reported a count of 15,482 unsheltered individuals.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis made a significant announcement during a press conference on Wednesday. He revealed that he has officially signed Florida House Bill 1365 into law. This new legislation prohibits individuals from sleeping on public property without obtaining a permit beforehand.

The bill permits local governments to designate properties for sleeping or camping, as long as the sites meet the standards set by the Florida Department of Children and Families. However, it is important to note that these designated sites can only be used for a period of one year.

During the press conference, DeSantis criticized California for having the highest number of homeless individuals among all states.

In discussing the worsening homelessness problem in Florida, he pointed to the homeless encampments on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles, California as a poignant example.

According to the speaker, numerous families have been forced to leave certain areas due to the prevalence of public drug use and overwhelming homelessness. He specifically mentioned Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles, where a massive encampment has formed. He emphasized that such conditions are detrimental to building strong communities, promoting good governance, and maintaining a healthy society.

According to DeSantis, California’s approach to addressing its homelessness problem has been unsuccessful.

According to the governor, San Francisco’s homelessness problem has proven to be quite costly for its taxpayers. In fact, despite being slightly smaller in size than Jacksonville, Florida, the city has already spent a staggering $1.1 billion in 2022 alone. To put things into perspective, this amount accounts for nearly 80 percent of Jacksonville’s entire city budget. The governor strongly believes that this current approach is simply not sustainable and deems it a failed model.

In a bid to address the homelessness crisis, California Governor Gavin Newsom recently unveiled a plan to allocate $179.7 million in grants. This funding will be used to construct 710 new homes in seven counties across the state, including Fresno, Los Angeles, Modesto, Sacramento, San Buenaventura, San Diego, and Visalia.

The addition of these extra units will bring the total number of homes created by Homekey, the statewide initiative aimed at providing housing for the homeless or those at risk of homelessness, to 13,484.

“The homelessness crisis in the state has been persisting for decades. However, we are determined to address this issue by introducing groundbreaking solutions that will help Californians find stable housing,” stated Governor Newsom in a press release.

On Wednesday, Newsweek sent an email to Newsom’s office seeking comment.

In a recent post on Wednesday, DeSantis provided additional details about HB 1365. One key aspect is the implementation of enforcement measures to ensure that local governments adhere to the new law. Additionally, the legislation aims to guarantee that homeless shelters offer alternatives such as drug abuse and mental health counseling when they reach their maximum capacity.

“We are taking action on homelessness to prevent Florida communities from experiencing the same failed policies seen in other states, where homeless encampments have become a burden on society,” he emphasized in the post.

According to a statement from DeSantis’ office, when asked by Newsweek about the availability of homeless shelters in Florida to accommodate the growing homeless population, they responded via email stating, “Homeless shelters are managed at the local and county level. I recommend reaching out to the relevant local government entities for more information.”

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