Orlando is 3rd Meanest City to Homeless – our opinion

First of all, let us say that the recent study from National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty and the National Coalition for the Homeless (not affiliated with us) shocked us. In a second we will explain why.

The study (“Homes Not Handcuffs”) released a ranking of the “Ten Meanest Cities” to the homeless. According to the report, each city was evaluated by the following criteria: “the number of anti-homeless laws in the city, the enforcement of those laws and severity of penalties, the general political climate toward homeless people in the city, local advocate support for the meanest designation, the city’s history of criminalization measures, and the existence of pending or recently enacted criminalization legislation in the city.”

Since we know you love to see who made the ‘naughty list’, here it is. And yes, that’s Orlando in slot number three.
1. Los Angeles, CA
2. St. Petersburg, FL
3. Orlando, FL
4. Atlanta, GA
5. Gainesville, FL
6. Kalamazoo, MI
7. San Francisco, CA
8. Honolulu, HI
9. Bradenton, FL
10. Berkeley, CA

Now that you know exactly what we are talking about, we can explain why we are shocked.

We recognize that Orlando has made sometimes not well-received policies in dealing with the homeless. We get that. But, we are also a city that is striving hard to improve the way the homeless issue is addressed. For example, there is the Central Florida Commission on Homelessness, a group of high profile business, government, and nonprofit leaders that is busy working to carry out a newly developed 10-year plan to address homelessness in our region. And also, the city of Orlando and Orange County are working together to establish broader services for the homeless in our city. Take, for example, the Coalition’s new Men’s Service Center, the construction of which both Orlando and Orange County will help to fund.

In all, we don’t concur that Orlando is one of the top ten meanest cities to the homeless. Based on the criteria provided in this study, we can see how the City Beautiful was originally pinpointed. But when we take into account what Orlando is doing now to help the homeless, the reasoning becomes fuzzier. There is still much to be done, but we believe the third meanest city should get a recount. We’re in the right state for that anyway, are we not?