Florida Is by Far the Most Dangerous State for Homeless

Categories: News

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Andres David Lopez
The conventional narrative holds that Florida is a wonderful place to be homeless. There's lots of sunshine and warm weather. There are public beaches. And sure enough, homeless people abound.

But according to a disturbing study released this past Friday, this notion couldn't be further from the grim reality. Florida is by far the most dangerous state to be homeless. Just take a look at these illuminating charts.

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Charts: National Coalition for the Homeless
According to the second chart, California, which has a population of 38 million, has had 258 acts of violence against the homeless over the past decade, but Florida, which has a population of only 19 million, has logged 217 acts of violence. Three states -- Idaho, Vermont, and North Dakota -- didn't report a single one.

As if it weren't bad enough, the report also condemned Florida for "criminalizing" the homeless community. "Many cities here have enacted severe anti-camping, panhandling, and anti-food-sharing laws" and these cities "are also the ones with the most elevated number of hate crimes against homeless people."

See also: Miami's Homeless Say City Workers Are Stealing Their Stuff

Many of the examples of violence that the report lists are terrifying:

  • On December 1 of last year, in Deerfield Beach, 23-year-old John Stabile confessed to killing a 43-year-old homeless, whom "he'd been thinking about killing for weeks."
  • On December 12, in Hallandale Beach, two teenagers aged 14 and 17 were charged with murdering a 40-year-old homeless man after they asked the man to help them find a prostitute. After the man did, the prostitute claimed the boys didn't have enough money, but the older man demanded his money anyway. An argument erupted. Eventually, the boys "punched, kicked, and stabbed him with a pen."
  • On December 18, in Miami, a 49-year-old homeless man was "randomly stabbed" while asking for money at an intersection. A man in a black Ford 150 truck gave Mercado some money, then stabbed him in the neck, and drove off.
  • What emerges from the grisly tales is the dehumanization of the homeless in Florida. Acts that wouldn't necessarily happen to those in normalized society frequently target those most shunted to the shadows.

    "This violence is prompted by a profound lack of empathy for fellow human beings," remarked Jerry Jones, the coalition's director. "It's the same moral failure that allows our society to tolerate the larger tragedy of homelessness."

    If you know more, send your story tip to author, Terrence McCoy.

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    15 comments
    Lynxx3
    Lynxx3

    What a terrible distinction to have as a state and a people. With the jobs market as bad as it is, comments reflection 'bums, get a job,' is ironic at the least. 

    redredwein
    redredwein

    Thanks, Terrence, for excellent and important reporting. I'd covered for NT last week the abuse of homeless in Miami against the background of the oft officially ignored Pottinger settlement agreement. This is the norm in Florida, and far from the exception.  Florida, also as defined by National Coalition, has repeatedly earned the distinction as the "Meanest State" in the nation based on widespread policies which criminalize homelessness.  Add to this the "most dangerous" distinction, and it's clear that things are not getting better.  Shame shame shame!

    Jenni Warjas Morales
    Jenni Warjas Morales

    The article is well-written but the title is misleading, if you factor in the number of deaths (from exposure & from starting fires to keep warm) & injuries (like amputations) that occur from freezing temperatures; Florida is pretty far down the list

    Mike LaMonica
    Mike LaMonica

    Very tough material here. Thanks Jeffrey Zelaya

    Mark Erdman
    Mark Erdman

    have you guys thought about doing a soup kitchen out of the office

    Lenny Lebowitz
    Lenny Lebowitz

    Freedom nothing left to lose ,,, homeless equals freedom

    Deathray Jones
    Deathray Jones

    then there's the attempt to derail the pottinger decision. out of sight, out of mind. we hate the poor in america, and miami-dade county institutionalizes it.

    Frank Castle
    Frank Castle

    miami has zombies that eat the homeless...the end is near

    Barbara Behrens
    Barbara Behrens

    Because ur homeless is not a reason to dehumanize a person....shame on Florida .

    Chris Schaaff
    Chris Schaaff

    Idk dude. Personally I'd rather be dead than homeless.

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