Port St. Joe adding to the list of localities working to protect themselves from the Rescue Mission’s advancement

Tuesday night, Port St. Joe commissioners passed two ordinances dealing with homeless shelters. Both ordinances were under scrutiny by the American Civil Liberties Union, claiming that the laws would cause there to be “unnecessary hurdles” to open a homeless shelter within the city limits.

The first ordinance was a nuisance ordinance similar to the laws passed in Panama City and by the Gulf County Commission. If a property has police or ambulance report to their house 5 times in a months time, they could potentially be labeled a nuisance.

The other ordinance gives specific rules for how and where a homeless shelter can be established. Some of the rules that were in place include a $1,500 processing fee when putting in their application, plus additional fees later in the approval process. Additionally, they are required to have on site security, a source of transportation for residents, and to give medical attention as necessary.

The ACLU had expressed concern that the ordinances would discourage people from calling the police when dealing with problems, for fear of being labeled a nuisance. Matthew Scoggins of the Gulf Coast HOPE Center, partnered with Panama City Rescue Mission also expressed concern saying that a person would need to be a millionaire in order to establish a homeless shelter in the area.

In response to concerns from the ACLU, commissioners added a provision to the nuisance ordinance saying that cases dealing with domestic abuse would not be held against a person, saying that they don’t want people to fear calling for help.