What they've said about the homeless

By Times staff
Published February 18, 2007

Mayor Rick Baker 03/10/06: "I wanted to do the outreach first, because there are people with needs. We should get them in the appropriate places."


In an announcement after the city agreed to creating 37 more emergency shelter beds for the homeless and hiring a homeless outreach coordinator.

01/23/07: "I did not know that the operation had occurred until it occurred. I was aware that the fire marshal had identified a very grave concern. I did not know the specifics to the solution."


Speaking at a press conference after the infamous tent city raid.

01/30/07: "The events of the recent weeks reveal how difficult it will be to advance our goal of becoming America's best city until we get better at moving people off the street and into independent lives."


Excerpts from an op-ed piece in the St. Petersburg Times written by Mayor Baker.

Council member James Bennett 2/06/06: "When you criminalize homelessness, you're not getting to the root of the problem. Why not do something that would have a positive impact on the homeless rather than give these people - some of whom have mental problems - a criminal record?"



01/05/07: "None of us is endorsing the tent city. It's not a humane way to go. But if you provide a place, they (the homeless) will go there."


01/23/07: "What we saw on Friday night was an embarrassment for this city."

Speaking at a news conference after the tent city raid.

Council member Bill Foster 2/06/06: "We've invested millions in this. And in that respect, it's not really fair for our city to have people living out there."


He favored a controversial ordinance that banned sleeping on sidewalks.

01/08/07: "We have momentum for the homeless cause. Demonstrating in front of a house of worship, in my opinion, that sets it back some. You're not going to make friends with the top guy in the city doing that."

In response to protesters who picketed outside of the mayor's church.

01/12/07: "I don't want to be the welcome wagon for people who choose this as a lifestyle. But if we can't do better, we need to leave them alone."

Asking whether the City Council could block the potential code violations (at tent city).

Police Chief Chuck Harmon 01/23/07: "In hindsight we didn't discuss the actual property issue, and we probably should have taken that into consideration. I think the perception was not good of how and what we did. I hope there's no need to ever do that again."


During a press conference after public outrage after the police raid on tent city.

02/14/07: "The way we did that was a mistake."

In response to a question at Wednesday's Tiger Bay meeting.

The Rev. Bruce J. Wright 04/06/06: "While Mayor Baker is talking about a 10-year plan to cut homelessness, he is tacitly supporting the ordinance clarification about what is park land, which, in effect, forces law enforcement to take action against the homeless sleeping on public areas after 11 p.m. It essentially says they (the homeless) are going to have be moved on, get arrested or cited."


In response to the county's plan, "Opening Doors of Opportunity: A 10-year Plan to End Homelessness in Pinellas County."


01/08/07: "This isn't just a political issue, it's also a spiritual issue. ... Jesus spoke up for the poor."


He helped organize a protest outside of the mayor's church.

01/09/07: "If it takes something like this, then that's what is necessary. There has always been a crisis, but now that there is media attention on it, (city officials) are responding."