Homeless people are on my mind a lot as we finish up work on our Homeless Handbook. There are plenty of bad days for all of America’s 3.5 million homeless folks, but last Friday brought two stories that make clear that sunny Florida isn’t the best place to be homeless these days. I had to rewrite our sidebar on the “meanest cities” toward the homeless because the National Coalition for the Homeless released its 2005 ranking of cities that criminalize homelessness — that is, cities that seem to pay more attention to creating anti-homeless laws than to solving their homelessness problems. Sarasota, FL, heads the list — a lovely place to live…if you’re not homeless. Here’s a summary of the report here: www.nationalhomeless.org/civilrights/crimpress2006.
And Ft. Lauderdale made the news with a tragic story of brutal attacks on three homeless men, one of whom was killed. (Surveillance video from Florida Atlantic University showed two young men beating one of the victims with what looked like bats.) This morning’s Miami Herald reported that the young men, ages 17 and 18, turned themselves in to police on Sunday after police received more than 100 tips from local residents who recognized the teens on the video.
No “motive” has been determined (and what motive could there be?), but I admit I’ll be watching with a sad curiosity as the case progresses to see how the defense attorneys explain these kids’ brutality.