Orlando's Proposed Ordinance Sparks Criticism for Alleged Discrimination Against the Homeless, Nonprofit Claims
Image By: Spectrum News 13

Orlando’s Proposed Ordinance Sparks Criticism for Alleged Discrimination Against the Homeless, Nonprofit Claims

Orlando city officials are considering adjustments to enhance safety in the downtown area. Next Monday, the Orlando City Council will vote on a proposed ordinance aiming to modify a section of the city code.

The amendment includes additional language stipulating that individuals obstructing a public street or sidewalk through activities such as walking, standing, sitting, or lying can be charged with disorderly conduct if they refuse to comply with a police officer’s instructions to move.

According to police representatives, the ordinance is a response to complaints from local businesses.

In reaction to the proposed ordinance, the Homeless Services Network of Central Florida expressed concern that if enacted, it would disproportionately affect the homeless population.

Homeless Services Network CEO Martha Are stated that, “We definitely support safe neighborhoods and communities, and we understand that dynamic, but we also recognize that when you criminalize being homeless, that is not an ultimate solution.”

At J Henry’s barbershop in the Parramore community, the regulation ignited an engaging conversation on Friday afternoon.

Henry, the owner of the shop said that, “I see a lot of homeless, and it seems to me every day is getting worse.”

Henry currently operates his business from a temporary location on Parramore Avenue, a shift that occurred after his barbershop was damaged in a fire back in November 2021.

Reflecting on his past, he shared that he experienced a period of homelessness, sleeping in his car. However, he has since obtained a barber’s license and established his own successful business.

While navigating the streets and sidewalks, Henry has taken note of the presence of unhoused individuals.

“Families grouped together under tents, sheets, cardboard boxes doing the best they can to survive, and it’s real sad,” he said.

He believes that the proposed Orlando law has both positive and negative aspects.

“It may help bring or promote more business to the neighborhoods,” he said.

Alternatively, he suggests that apprehending individuals solely because they lack a place to stay may pose a problem and should not be the preferred course of action.

“Making somebody leave or move, a homeless person, homeless person? Where they going to go?” he said. “To another neighborhood and do the same thing? They can’t go home because they don’t have a home.”

Greg Maye, while getting a haircut, expressed that homelessness will persist until the root cause is tackled.

“When is the question going to address what are you doing to get the homeless people off the street? What community programs do you have?” he said. “Once again, we’re putting a Band-Aid on something when we ain’t got no solution for the problem.”

Are mentioned that her nonprofit is currently developing strategies to inform individuals facing homelessness about how to prevent arrests and navigate the potential new ordinance, if it is approved.

The ordinance is scheduled for its initial reading on Monday, and its final passage is contingent upon a subsequent reading at an upcoming meeting.

Are expressed her group’s aspiration to leverage the situation to underscore the demand for additional shelters and affordable housing in the region.

“You’re criminalizing homelessness, and that’s not the direction that the community needs to go,” she said. “Arrest records never help when you’re trying to get back into housing, so it can actually be counter counterproductive.”

Spectrum News sought clarification on the ordinance from the Orlando Police Department. In response, the department issued the following statement:

This proposed ordinance seeks to clarify how officers can enforce the law to help curb these actions and reduce these instances. The proposed ordinance will allow officers anywhere in the city to take immediate action against anyone who is intentionally trying to limit another person’s movement on the sidewalks or to force them to walk into the street to avoid the obstruction, which is inherently dangerous.

Source: mynews13.com

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With more than two years of expertise in news and analysis, Eileen Stewart is a seasoned reporter. Eileen is a respected voice in this field, well-known for her sharp reporting and insightful analysis. Her writing covers a wide range of subjects, from politics to culture and more.