Proposed Orlando ordinance could push homeless from downtown streets

ORLANDO, Fla. — Monday, Orlando City Council voted to pass a reading unanimously of an amended City Code of Conduct that would change the wording to allow police officers to take immediate action against anyone who is intentionally trying to limit another person’s movement on the sidewalks.

The proposed ordinance will amend Section 43.06 of the City Code of the City of Orlando to include additional language that constitutes disorderly conduct if an individual intentionally blocks someone or requires the other person to take reserved actions to avoid physical contact.


“It bothers me that we’re going to spend this money and make up these silly laws. They haven’t worked in the past. Why would they work now?” said Scott Billue, Founder, CEO, and President of Matthew’s Hope.

Orlando Police told Eyewitness News the new ordinance goes for anyone, whether for solicitation of donations, distribution of materials, marketing, signature collection, expression of viewpoints, threatening to fight, or any other purpose, anywhere in the city.

“Let’s call it what it is. It’s a homeless law. It’s ridiculous, it’s foolish, and quite honestly, it puts our police force in a really bad position because it’s not illegal to be homeless,” said Billue.

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Billue said this amended ordinance will disproportionately impact the homeless community and push the problem away instead of addressing the housing issue.

“A police officer can come and arrest them and take them to jail or as some cities are doing. Police can come, but then they take them to a drop-in center during the day that offers shelters, case management, and helps them find the necessary resources to find their next best step and I think that’s where we really need to move towards,” said Dr. David Swanson, Senior Pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Orlando.

Orlando Police said the ordinance changes stem from complaints from businesses and those who live, work, and visit downtown. OPD said it’s important for the streets and sidewalks to stay clean and safe to allow everyone to travel freely.

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Dr. Swanson said although safety has become a concern for businesses, pushing people who are unwanted in one area to another is not the answer.

“What we need to be focused on as a community is what are the long-term solutions that are going to help reduce the number of homeless and so that law enforcement has a better solution than taking them to jail or incarcerating them. Where else can they be taking them that can be more positive?” said Swanson.

For the ordinance to pass, it will go through public comment and then a second reading before final approval.

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