The readers’ forum

Adding beds won’t solve homeless problem


Re the June 14 story City to add 15 beds at shelters: Over the last several weeks our community has watched several Miami commissioners’ efforts to deal with the homeless population in and around the downtown urban core.

The expectation, or the wishful anticipation, was that elected officials concerned with the visibility of homeless people would take a collaborative approach to solving the problem. There was great hope that the elected officials would engage the management and civic leadership of the Homeless Trust — a proven and nationally recognized organization with expertise in using designated tax dollars to manage a transformational model known as the continuum of care plan — to craft a holistic approach to resolve the homeless issue. After all, many regularly visit Miami seeking input and guidance from the Trust and/or its service providers because of its track record.

In the early 1990s, business, civic and elected officials of greater Miami had the amazing vision to push for and secure passage of the 1-percent food and beverage tax that funds the local continuum-of-care plan.

The model is hailed nationally as one of the most viable, effective and efficient public/private partnerships used to resolve chronic homelessness. The overwhelming success of the initiative is attributed to the core element of the model – a three-stage plan that meets the needs of the homeless in a holistic fashion by providing well-structured transformational programs for them to permanently end their state of homelessness, regain their dignity and return to normal, productive lives.

This approach includes services such as temporary and transitional sheltering, temporary and permanent housing options, case management, substance-abuse treatment, medical care, job training and placement, childcare and education.

It seeks to resolve the homeless condition, not hide it.

When the Homeless Trust and the continuum of care plan were put into place the homeless population in Miami-Dade County was approximately 8,000. Today this number typically averages less than 1,000. The model works.

But instead, the City Commission chose to “nudge the county’s Homeless Trust” by approving funding for 15 new shelter beds that come with no other integrated service component; they are simply overnight storage units for the homeless population. It is the approach that others have unsuccessfully used to deal with the homeless population primarily because it does not offer a structured and defined path to self sufficiency and a return to normalcy.

Instead of passing a resolution and thereby attempting to force the hand of others, it would have been much more prudent and productive for the elected officials to meet with our nationally recognized experts and for the outcome to have been a well thought out, integrated plan to resolve the problem. How refreshing it would have been to see collaboration, cooperation and deference to the experts as opposed to the “nudge” approach.

Carlos Fernandez-Guzman, Miami

Read more Letters to the Editor stories from the Miami Herald

  • The readers’ forum

    Job-driven training key to stronger workforce

    As the U.S. secretary of labor, I meet with employers around the country of all sizes and from an array of industries. So many of them tell me the same thing: They’re ready to grow their businesses and to hire more people. But here’s the rub: too often, they can’t find workers who have the skills they need.

  • Florida’s “Right to Work’ guarantee

    Charlie Crist stated that if elected governor, he would revisit Florida’s Right to Work Law. But I’m confused as to why.

  • Croc’s death unnecessary

    A comedian once noted that, “There ain’t no cure for stupidity.” That adage again rings true. First, there was the couple swimming in the Gables Waterway in the middle of the night that was were bitten by a crocodile at home minding his own business. Then, somehow, the crocodile winds up dead after trappers reportedly snared it and fought it for 30 minutes.

Miami Herald

Join the

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category