Tampa city council considers new homeless restrictions - WFLA News Channel 8

Tampa city council considers new homeless restrictions

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The Tampa City Council passed two ordinances on their first reading Thursday. If they get final approval, greater restrictions will be placed on where the city's homeless population can beg, keep their belongings, and go to the bathroom.

Some local business owners have asked the city to crackdown on the habits of the estimated 700 homeless who call Tampa home.

"We put up the fence to keep the homeless away from our property cause they were using it to sleep like it was a campground," explained Tampa business owner Michael Batista. "They would use this area over here as a bathroom and we would come to work and find all kinds of human waste."

Some homeless people who attended Thursday's meetings feel the proposed measures are too harsh for the homeless.

"It's difficult and extreme to survive out here when you don't have so much as a bus pass, a drink of water, or a place to use the rest room," said Daniel Ferrin. 

Ferrin says he's been living on the streets of Tampa for about six months. "You got to blend in during the day and you have to disappear at night."

The first ordinance would ban panhandling in downtown Tampa and Ybor City and at ATMs and banks.  The second ordinance would prohibit people from storing their property in public and going to the bathroom in public. Police could take them to jail if they refuse to go to a shelter, under the proposed ordinance.

The public can voice their opinions about the ordinances before the council takes a second vote on July 18.

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