By Michael Stoops, Director of Community Organizing
On April 20, FL/H-11 (Crimes Against the Homeless) was passed 80-28 in the Florida House of Representatives. H-11 will add “homeless status” to hate crime legislation, reclassify offenses fueled by prejudice based on homeless status, and deliver stricter penalties to perpetrators. A companion bill (SB 506) is now before the Florida Senate. This is the fourth time the Florida Legislature has attempted to pass similar legislation. When he was running for the job, Governor Charlie Crist (R) indicated that he would support the bill if it were presented for signature. “I’d be open to that,” was Crist’s response when asked if he’d support homeless hate crimes legislation.
If the Florida legislation passes and becomes law, it will follow the lead of other states/jurisdictions (Alaska, California, Maine, Maryland, Puerto Rico) and cities (Cleveland, Los Angeles, Seattle, Washington, DC,) who have passed various versions of homeless hate crimes legislation/resolution. Bills are also pending in: Illinois, New York State, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and Washington State.
In Congress a homeless hate crimes statistics reporting bill has been introduced in the both the U.S. House (H.R. 3419). and Senate (S. 1765). The House bill has 13 co-sponsors and the Senate bill has 12 co-sponsors.
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