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Homeless ‘mean’ list meant to bully Sarasota

For those who commute from Sarasota or call the city their hometown, here is a piece of news regarding that fair city: You hail from a so-called “mean” city, according to the National Coalition for the Homeless. The organization claims that Sarasota’s “no camping” ordinance, which outlaws residing outdoors on public or private property without proper permission, is not friendly to homeless individuals.

The NCH may be trying to raise awareness with city officials in Sarasota to have more regard for the homeless, but it seems like the organization was trying to bully the city into giving into its demands.

“They could have been taken off the mean list if they would have just done away with that ordinance,” said Michael Stoops, acting director of the Washington-based NCH in a Jan. 13 Associated Press article.

However, those who work to help the homeless in Sarasota do not take kindly to the criticisms from the NCH, saying the organization does not realize all that the city does to help people down on their luck.

“If somebody wants a helping hand, we’ll bend over backward,” said Bryan Pope, general manager of Sarasota’s Salvation Army, in Monday’s St. Petersburg Times. The Times also reported that the agency “provides three meals a day, 200 beds and employment help at its $10.5-million building on 10th Street (in Sarasota).”

Many argue that the ordinance, 05-4640, was enacted to keep homeless individuals healthy and safe. However, those opposed to the measure do not see it that way.

Chris Cosden, a Sarasota attorney, plans to appeal the third version of the ordinance and also appealed the first two.

“What’s going on here is the city of Sarasota is trying to make lives of homeless people so miserable that they’ll go someplace else,” Cosden said to the Times. “We should not be treating other human beings this badly.”

Cosden added in the Times article that he does not know if Sarasota is meaner than other cities.

The issue of Sarasota’s lack of receptiveness toward homeless people is surely up for debate, but it seems clear that the NCH deeming Sarasota as the “meanest city” for the homeless is nothing more than tactics designed to scare city officials into taking away an ordinance that they deem important to the city.