FAC has reported a public health and safety concern to the Broward and Miami-Dade County Health Departments, the Florida Department of Health, the US Department of Health and Human Services and OSHA. The letter, which can be read below, seeks to end the practice of forcing thousands of individuals who are labeled sex offenders to to live like animals in homeless encampments throughout our state.

Our goal is not to displace people, but to stop this inhumane, degrading, unsanitary and unsafe practice that has been going on too long.

_____

August 3, 2017

Broward County Health Department
2421 SW 6th Ave
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33315

Miami-Dade County Health Department
1350 NW 14th St
Miami, FL 33125

Florida Department of Health
Broward County Administrative Center
780 S.W. 24th Street
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33315

US Department of Health and Human Services
200 Independence Avenue, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20201

US Department of Labor
Occupational Safety and Health Administration
200 Constitution Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20210

RE: REPORT OF PUBLIC HEALTH AND SAFETY CONCERN
FORT LAUDERDALE, FLORIDA

To the Above-Listed Agencies:

I am writing to report a public health and safety concern located in the City of Fort Lauderdale, Broward County, Florida.

A recent South Florida news station reported that dozens of registered sex offenders were living homeless at a Walmart1 in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. A similar situation was reported as occurring in Cocoa, Florida2.
A search of the Florida Sex Offender Registry3 reveals that there are over ONE HUNDRED individuals living homeless at or near the Target shopping plaza located at the corner of Oakland Park Boulevard and Federal Highway in Ft. Lauderdale. Similarly, there are approximately TWO HUNDRED FIFTY individuals living homeless at or near the corner of 71st Street and NW 36th Avenue in Miami.

Studies4 report, that thousands of individuals in Florida are rendered homeless, not because they are unable to afford suitable housing or live with supportive family members or friends, but because sex offender residency restrictions prohibit them from doing so. Further, the severely limited housing options force these individuals to cluster in very limited areas that available to those on the registry.

The consequence of these severely deleterious residency restrictions is the situation the media has been reporting on; hundreds of homeless sex offenders living in a supermarket parking lot.

The Florida Action Committee (FAC) is a not-for-profit public safety advocacy organization. Our concern is both for the individuals who were legislated into homelessness and the community in those areas in which they are clustered.

For the individuals; indefinite forced homelessness exposes them to health and safety issues. Their physical health, mental well-being, susceptibility to violence and triggers for substance use and recidivism are a concern.

For the community, unquestionably public safety should be a concern, as should public health and workplace safety of the people who live, work and shop in those areas. Environmental concerns should also be taken into consideration. One must wonder; where do these one hundred people urinate and defecate at night?

Our request is that your agencies formally investigate the impact of having hundreds of individuals living homeless and clustered into such concentrated areas. While the knee-jerk reaction might be to close off the area and disburse the homeless, we strongly discourage this measure, since there is nowhere for these people to go that is compliant with the residency restriction laws and dispelling them will only serve to stress and destabilize them and drive them underground.

Our hope in formally reporting this public health and safety concern is that you will work with local authorities, politicians and other stake-holders to find solutions to address this problem.

Sincerely,

Gail Colletta, President
Florida Action Committee, Inc.

1 https://www.local10.com/news/local-10-investigates/are-sex-offenders-living-where-you-shop-some-use-shopping-centers-as-addresses

2 https://www.news4jax.com/inside-edition/registered-sex-offenders-including-sexual-predators-found-to-list-walmart-as-home-address

3 http://offender.fdle.state.fl.us/offender/offenderSearchNav.do?link=advanced

4 Yung, Corey Rayburn. “Banishment by a thousand laws: Residency restrictions on sex offenders.” Wash. UL Rev. 85 (2007): 101.
Levenson, Jill S. “Collateral consequences of sex offender residence restrictions.” Criminal Justice Studies 21.2 (2008): 153-166.,
Levenson, J., Ackerman, A. R., Socia, K. M., & Harris, A. J. (2015). Where for art thou? Transient sex offenders and residence restrictions. Criminal Justice Policy Review, 26(4), 319-344
Wernick, Steven J. “In Accordance with a Public Outcry: Zoning Out Sex Offenders Through Residence Restrictions in Florida.” Fla. L. Rev. 58 (2006): 1147.

 

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