Sep 12, 2022 - News

Conflict continues over Virginia Key homeless plan

A green tent is in the foreground. Behind it is a highway overpass and a Bank of Ameria building.
A homeless encampment in Miami. Photo: Daniel A. Varela/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

A coalition of activists will rally at Miami City Hall Tuesday and call on commissioners to:

  • Kill a plan (which was approved but postponed last month) to house homeless people on Virginia Key
  • Let Virginia Key Outdoor Center return to the park, and
  • Provide permanent, supportive housing for homeless people.

Background: Last month, the Miami City Commission approved a pilot program to house 50 to 100 homeless people in tiny homes on Virginia Key. The city also ousted the kayak rental company Virginia Key Outdoor Center from its location in the park, alleging unpaid rent and code violations.

What's happening: Virginia Key Outdoor Center plans to give a presentation at Tuesday's commission meeting while the Miami Coalition to Advance Racial Equity (MCARE) will lead a rally outside City Hall.

What they're saying: MCARE's executive director David Peery tells Axios that the city's current policies — relying largely on temporary shelters and employing a police unit that sweeps homeless camps and disposes of people's tents and belongings — aren't working.

  • "[The police unit] has cost us nearly $1 million," since last year, he said, adding that homelessness increased 23% in that time, according to an estimate from the Homeless Trust.
  • The city is also facing a lawsuit over its practices.

Context: The city has millions of dollars available to cover rent for landlords who house homeless people, but Miami properties are so in demand that it's been challenging to find landlords to participate.

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