Florida county has spent more than $5 million over the past nine years throwing chronically homeless people in jail, when it could have spent considerably less finding them shelter.
In its annual report on the state of homelessness in Osceola County, Fla., Impact Homelessness — a local advocacy group — found that the county continues to spend a pretty penny on imprisoning people who live on the streets, instead of helping to rehabilitate them.
The county has at least 300 homeless people sleeping on the streets every night. Most of those people have physical disabilities and/or mental illnesses. Many of them are veterans.
Impact Homelessness investigated the number of people who have been put in prison because of “crimes” related to homelessness, including panhandling, sleeping outside and trespassing. One section of the report focused on the “frequent flyers” — people who have been arrested over and over again for homeless-related crimes.