SOURCE: The Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust

The Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust

May 19, 2010 18:15 ET

The Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust Instrumental in the Passing of Florida State Legislation Making Attacks on the Homeless Hate Crimes

MIAMI, FL--(Marketwire - May 19, 2010) -  The Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust has been instrumental in the passing of a new Florida law that makes violence against the homeless a hate crime. Governor Charlie Crist, who signed the bill in Tallahassee on May 11th, will be in Fort Lauderdale on Thursday, May 20th for a ceremonial signing of said legislation at Esplanade Park in Fort Lauderdale, marking one of the nation's most horrific attacks on a homeless person. On Jan. 12, 2006, baseball-bat wielding teens beat homeless men in downtown Fort Lauderdale, killing one. Security camera footage of one of the beatings became a rallying cry for advocates for the homeless.

"The Homeless Trust has been lobbying to get this law passed for over 5 years," said Ronald L. Book, Chairman of the Miami Dade County Homeless Trust. "Nobody is more vulnerable to violence than those in our community who are experiencing homelessness and this law sends a clear message that this type of violence will no longer be tolerated."

According to a recent report presented to the Florida Legislature by The National Coalition for the Homeless, the state, which is ranked Number 4 in population, has consistently ranked Number 1 in attacks on homeless people. In response to this staggering figure, now Florida will become one of the first states to enact a law making it a hate crime to attack a homeless person. Florida becomes only the fourth jurisdiction to make attacks on homeless people a hate crime -- behind Maryland, Maine and Washington, D.C. The law, which goes into effect on October 1st, adds homeless people to an existing hate-crimes law that increases sentencing for attacks motivated by a victim's race, color, ancestry, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, mental or physical disability or advanced age.

About The Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust:
Founded in 1993, The Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust is a county agency headed by a board of 27 volunteers appointed by the Miami-Dade County Commission charged with the responsibility of implementing the Miami-Dade County Community Homeless Plan. These volunteers represent the business community, the religious community, the educational community, the provider community, the political community, and formerly homeless individuals. Since its inception, the Homeless Trust has been instrumental in reducing the number of homeless in Miami-Dade County from over 8,000 in 1993 to well under 800 people today.

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