Cybersecdn– This winter, more and more homeless people in South Florida are moving into abandoned boats that are sitting on the coast. This is a new “phenomenon” for the local sheriff’s office that has only been known about for a year.
“This realization happened in 2023. In Martin County, there have been homeless and squatters for a long time. Not a big one, but temporary visitors have come and gone. Additionally, there was the problem of the abandoned ship. Two different issues, as Chief Deputy John Budensiek explained to Fox News Digital this week in a Zoom chat.
“But as our marine deputy started to ticket, tag, and remove these boats, they found out last year that many of them were home to homeless people,” he said.
Local news outlets started to report late last year that there were more and more homeless people living in abandoned boats. They also said that the Martin County Sheriff’s Office was working to get rid of the boats and squatters or fix up some of the boats that were breaking the law. A boat that is found in a body of water and has at least two violations, such as not having a motor or leaking fuel, is called derelict. Putting old boats in the water is against the law in the state and could get you fines or jail time.
Martin County is on the eastern coast of Florida in South Florida, about 40 miles north of Palm Beach. For Fox News Digital, Budensiek said that the area is popular with tourists, boaters, and fishermen. He said that many sailboats go to and from the Bahamas from the area.
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“One of the problems with having so many ships in our area is that some of them break down badly and can’t be used”. Some of the owners will leave them or sell them to someone who doesn’t re-register them because they can’t be used anymore. In turn, those people stay on these boats or drive them until they can’t be used anymore. It’s dangerous for the environment because they sink, leak fuel (if they can take it), or leak human waste, he said.
A problem with abandoned boats has been present in the area for a long time, but the deputy chief said that the number of abandoned boats has grown over the last year. As the year came to a close in 2023, he said, the sheriff’s office had counted at least 50 boats that had been left behind and were subsequently cited by the authorities. Out of the 50 boats, 29 were taken away and burned, and the rest were brought up to code.
It was made clear by Budensiek that most of the people squatting on the boats are not poor people trying to find work and get off the streets. According to the assistant chief, they are vagrants, which means they are not trying to leave the squalor and are usually drug addicts or mentally ill people.
“The homeless population as a whole seems to be moving around a lot.” Unfortunately, homeless people from the north come to South Florida in the winter because it’s cold there. We try our best to deal with them, but they have the right to do certain things. He also said, “We want them to succeed, but we don’t want them to come and ruin the quality of life for people who work hard, pay taxes, and try to keep our waterways safe and clean.”
However, Budensiek said it is hard to tell the difference between a decrepit boat that is in compliance and a rundown boat that is squatting. An alligator killed a grandmother in Florida, and her family is now suing the retirement community, saying, “This was a tragedy that could have been avoided at all costs.”
This week, Chief Deputy John Budensiek told Fox News Digital what was going on. Fox Information
“It’s hard to tell them apart. He said, “There are a lot of vessels that work and have people living on them; you and I might not stay on them,”
The sheriff’s office is trying to get rid of the old boats or fix them up. They work with the U.S. Coast Guard to check the safety of boats that are anchored outside of the area’s water routes.
“We’re turning these boats that are anchored just outside of our channels on their lights to make sure they work so you can see them at night if you’re trying to get through our waterways,” he explained.
If you try a boat to see if it leaks sewage into the water, Budensiek said, you can be sure that it is abandoned.
Pollution is more dangerous to all living things than drugs and alcohol: report “What worries us most about the environment is that most of them don’t have bathrooms that work.” Vagrants are sleeping on boats and using the bathrooms in our county. “And the facilities on the boat are just draining into our estuaries, ocean, and rivers here,” he complained.
“From an environmental point of view, it’s a disgusting problem, and we are doing everything we can to find these people and their boats, dock them, fine them, and get them off of our beaches,” he said. He said that the government drops dye into the toilets of boats that they think are abandoned to see if it leaks into the water.
“They want to test them with dye too…” They’re putting this dye into the boats’ toilets using the plumbing. That boat isn’t sound, and it’s leaking sewage into our waterway if the dye shows up in the water, he said.
Reports of people squatting in homes have gone up across the U.S. since the pandemic, even in Florida. However, Budensiek said that this problem hasn’t affected his town as much as it has other communities. Instead, the office has to deal with people living on boats without permission and RVs coming to Martin County.
He said, “We have not, we’ve only had a few cases of that,” when asked if problems with people living on land have gotten worse in the last few months.”However, people with RVs have been coming into our county.” In a way, it’s kind of the same thing that happens with these boats; they stay in the RV until it stops working. He also said that squatters living on abandoned boats are a “new phenomenon.”
It costs a lot to get rid of and destroy the old boats: between $7,000 and $40,000. The money for the moves doesn’t come from a resident’s tax bill, but from boater registration fees, explained Budensiek. A specific part of boater registration fees is set aside to get rid of abandoned boats “so that our waterways are appealing to our residents and people who come here to enjoy our waterways,” he said.