Crackdown soon on St. Pete homeless ordinance | News
SAINT PETERSBURG, Florida - Officials with the city of St Petersburg say they're about a week or so away from starting to enforce an ordinance that bans the homeless from sleeping overnight on public right of ways around the city.
Officials say the ordinance has been around for years, but because they didn't have a non-jail alternative for the homeless, they couldn't enforce it. However, with the opening and expansion underway at the Pinellas Safe Harbor shelter, they can soon start to crack down on violators.
According to authorities with the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office, an outdoor courtyard is almost finished and will house 100 more people at Safe Harbor. That puts the occupancy total at 370. City officials say that will be enough space once the enforcement starts. Homeless people caught sleeping overnight on public right of ways will have the choice to go to the shelter (where they can get food, a shower, counselors and a case manager) or go to jail. Officials believe the majority will chose the shelter.
Authorities with the St Petersburg police department say officers have been issuing warnings to the homeless, making them aware about the upcoming enforcement.