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DeLand aims to keep homeless from sleeping on city benches

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DELAND, Fla. - Police in DeLand may soon have more power to regulate the area's homeless population.

The city is considering a new ordinance that would ban the homeless from sleeping downtown during certain hours.

Homeless men and women are a common sight in parts of Daytona Beach. But in DeLand, 30 minutes to the west, Channel 9's Blaine Tolison had difficulty finding any homeless in the town.

Despite that, business owners said the homeless are in the downtown in the dozens early in the morning and late at night.

"There's a few that have, you know, been verbal, verbally abusive you know, cussing and stuff like that, and those people I've trespassed," said business owner Billy Reader.

Currently in DeLand sleeping is prohibited on park benches in city parks, but the rule doesn't apply to benches downtown.

Proposed changes to the ordinance would prohibit sleeping on the benches between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.

But sometimes an ordinance does not help.

In Daytona Beach there's an ordinance to prevent the homeless from sleeping in public, but the city has taken more drastic measures by adding metal dividers to picnic tables to make them physically uncomfortable to sleep on.

"If they could find some place for them to go or help them out a little bit that would help not only the homeless, but the merchants and the people here in downtown DeLand," one resident said.

Volusia County leaders are researching the Safe Harbor program which is aimed to help the homeless get on their feet. They would live in a facility near the jail, away from cities. But the idea is still far from reality.