Sarasota, Florida was recently ranked by the National Coalition for the Homeless as America’s meanest city to the homeless. Doug Logan, Director of Special Initiatives of the City of Sarasota, attended a recent town hall meeting with the city’s most affluent residents.
Logan, charged with handling the town’s homeless “problem,” heard the affluent residents of Sarasota’s Rosemary District say terrible and appalling things about the homeless. “You say they’re people, they’re not people,” said one attendee. “They don’t have the same rights as we do. They’re abusing their rights.”
Many of Sarasota’s wealthy residents are retired non-natives to Florida who came to the state thinking it was some perfect paradise. Florida is part of America with all the same issues as other states. Addicting Info reported that Thomas Rebman, CEO of Homeless and Hungry and a former homeless person, said the Sarasota attitude towards homeless is rampant.
“The dehumanizing attitude represented at this meeting can be seen in the actions of not just residents but also local governments,” Rebman said. “We criminalize the homeless every chance we get. Until empathy is fostered and cities take on a housing first approach, this mentality will continue.”
Despite this horrendous marginalization of the homeless, groups like Homeless and Hungry and Housing First are spearheading the issue. Here’s a video of Rebman talking about Housing First, a project developed to get homeless people off the streets and into their own homes.