The legacy of the mayor’s office 2013 homeless ordinance still lives. In yesterday’s editorial, the Chicago Tribune singled out the city of Pensacola for its anti-blanket ordinance.
Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Orlando, Dallas and dozens of other cities have cracked down on their homeless populations by regulating soup kitchens, ticketing panhandlers and imposing bans on sleeping in public areas. Pensacola, Fla., passed an ordinance prohibiting sleeping outdoors while “covered by materials such as a bedroll, cardboard, newspapers or inside some form of temporary shelter.” Public outrage prompted the Pensacola City Council to reverse the blanket ban.
The city council did repeal the ordinances and Mayor Ashton Hayward announced that he asked Councilman Larry Johnson to head a task force on the homeless issue. the city held in March a community forum on homelessness with Dr. Robert Marbut, a nationally-recognized expert with more than 30 years of experience working with communities across the nation to develop positive solutions toward reducing the homeless population.
Since then, there has been little communication from the mayor’s office. I don’t think anyone, other Johnson, has been appointed to the task force. The city should try to get ahead of this bad publicity and show that it has developed positive initiatives….at least before winter.
Until then, Pensacola will continue to be mentioned “Town Without Pity” editorials.