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Ocala homeless fined, jailed: nowhere to sleep legally

Florida

In this photo provided by the Howard Center for Investigative Journalism, Rose Marie Mullins sits in her campsite outside Ocala, Fla., on Feb. 28, 2020. Homeless people have taken to the woods to avoid arrests in the city, which has cracked down on people sleeping in public spaces or on private property. (Richard Shaw/Howard Center for Investigative Journalism via AP)

OCALA, Fla. (AP) — Homeless people in Ocala, Florida, are accumulating thousands of dollars in fines and spending weeks in jail because they have nowhere to lawfully sleep.

The city faces a federal class-action lawsuit designed to end a city crackdown that has sent at least 200 homeless people to jail in the last two years.

The mayor says he wants to keep Ocala from turning into Los Angeles or San Francisco.

But the city has only 315 shelter beds and 2,000 people on waiting lists for housing vouchers. That leaves homeless people with “no choice” but to rest or sleep on the streets, in the woods, in parks and in other outdoor spaces, the suit alleges.

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