FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – A plan to rid panhandlers from the city of Fort Lauderdale goes before city commissioners Tuesday.
They’ll discuss details of a new program designed to deal with the growing homeless population in downtown streets and parks.
Part of the plan involves ending panhandling. Commissioners want people to stop giving money to directly to panhandlers and instead make donations to organizations that help the homeless.
In addition, there’s a push for a new law that would ban panhandling outright and ban sleeping in public.
Police have already beefed up patrols around Stranahan Park as part of the city’s effort to clean up the park, which has become a haven for the homeless. The park is on the busy corner of Broward Boulevard and Andrews Avenue and is adjacent to the county’s main library.
“Families don’t feel safe, people going to the library don’t feel safe, people wanting to use public resources don’t feel safe,” Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler told CBS4 News last week.
The city believes the sight of the homeless is affecting tourism, nearby businesses and tarnishing the city’s image.
Seiler said the police are cracking down on crimes like public drunkenness, indecent exposure and urinating in public.
But the homeless say they have nowhere else to go.
“There’s people out here that need help,” said one homeless man who did not want to be identified. “There’s also people out here that don’t know how to get it. All (the city is) trying to do is take people to jail.”
The homeless say they congregate in the park because that is where outside groups come to feed the homeless or bring necessities to them. The homeless estimate there can be as many as 150 homeless people in the park during feeding times.