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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.

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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