While it may be proper for the local government to help local citizens who have been made destitute by the federal government, politicians should be careful not to overdo their generosity.
Jacksonville does not need to be the bum mecca of America. Leave that to San Francisco.
Local residents have become disturbed over the camps of homeless people in downtown Jacksonville, centered around Union and Jefferson streets. It was described in the media as a “dangerous” area.
It does not appear that there are more vagrants in the city than usual. But not as many are being allowed to stay indoors in local homeless shelters because of the Red Chinese virus restrictions on the capacity in the shelters.
Compounding the problem, at least one group that operates a shelter was unable to hold its major fund-raising event – again, because of government-imposed restrictions related to the pandemic.
While many of these people simply are bums, who are homeless by choice and don’t live in Jacksonville – or anywhere else – there are some who are different.
First Coast News found one such couple. Huddled under a piece of carpet in the cold, they told reporters both had lost their jobs because of government shutdowns and basically had been put in “survival mode.” They came to Jacksonville, for reasons not explained by the TV reporters.
Others likely are what are called “snowbirds” who come to Florida during the winter and return in the spring to cities in the north.
In the past, police would employ vagrancy laws to keep them moving, on the assumption that they might resort to theft or panhandling local residents.
Mayor Lenny Curry and something called the Homeless Task Force have devised a plan to house homeless people in local hotels.
Eventually, they will be provided with permanent housing, one social worker said.
Typically, few of the local media has bothered to explain what all that generosity will cost or who will pay. Eye on Jacksonville asked Curry’s information gatekeepers, but don’t expect an answer given his past record of non-transparency.
News4Jax quoted city officials as saying $550,000 to $650,000 is available, a combination of federal, state, city and private funds. That doesn’t seem sufficient to provide hundreds of people with free homes and other goods and services.