The Trust has indicated it may fund “emergency beds” with case management services, with the ability for the homeless to remain in those beds and engage in the continuum of care. That is a good starting point. Pottinger precludes forced treatment for mental or substance abuse issues often associated with “emergency beds.” Whether we call these shelter beds, emergency beds, overnight beds or other nomenclature, we need a way to get homeless off the street within the Pottinger rules. Semantics shouldn’t force the homeless to stay on the street.
For one, Camillus House, whose mission is to eliminate chronic homelessness in Miami, provides just that — emergency shelter beds with case management for every individual and without forced treatment. Camillus and other agencies, such as the Chapman Partnership, provide the needed entry point for the homeless to access the continuum of care available. Fears of “warehousing” the homeless are an unfounded myth, as these agencies, which already provide services to the Trust, will attest unequivocally.
Our goals — the city, the Trust and the providers — are the same: provide the means to get the homeless into a system where they can end their odyssey on the streets and be in a safe environment, with proper nutrition and sanitary facilities. That is the first step in their journey to receive care and regain their place in society.
We’ve come a long way in 15 years to simultaneously improve the plight of the homeless and revitalize downtown. It’s time to take the next steps to enhance the existing solutions for both the homeless and the all the people of Miami.
In addition to providing additional beds, the Pottinger Settlement Agreement must be amended to provide better solutions to the chronic homeless and safeguards for others from having to deal with feces and urine on their thresholds and sidewalks, lewd misconduct and fires.
Fifteen years ago the Pottinger Settlement made provisions to allow for modifications to address the inevitable “change of circumstances” that the future would bring. We are following that process for the benefit of everyone in our City.
Marc Sarnoff is chairman of the Miami City Commission, representing District 2, and chairman of the Downtown Development Authority.