Pensacola moves to eliminate homeless 'blanket ban’
The Pensacola City Council on Thursday took the first step toward abolishing a controversial law that makes it a crime for the homeless to sleep with a blanket on city property, established a task force to seek more lasting solutions to the city’s homelessness epidemic and narrowly rejected a related attempt to roll back restrictions on tents and other temporary shelters.
The vote to repeal the so-called “blanket ban” was unanimous. However, the proposal still will have to pass a second reading, later this month, before becoming law.
The vote followed nearly an hour of impassioned comments from opponents of the ban. Members of the audience, including founders of internationally renowned homeless outreach Sean’s Outpost, told the council the law was inhumane, a violation of residents’ basic human rights and disastrous to the city’s reputation.
Before the vote, local civil rights attorney Alistair McKenzie — who spoke out against the project when it was passed into law last year — displayed a stack of news articles to council members. McKenzie said that the stated intent of the law’s architects — to protect the city’s image and aesthetics — had backfired.
“This is what Pensacola now looks like to the outside world,” he said.
McKenzie also reminded the council that the ban was only one in a series of restrictions placed on the city’s homeless population last year.
I’m glad they are repealing this ordnance though the shame is that they passed it in the first place. It’s just another anti-homeless law among many passed all over the US. Many places have put restrictions on charities feeding the homeless &c.
Not just the US, either. Check out this from the BBC about the use of “urban design” against the homeless.