The readers’ forum

Homelessness requires housing, services, not jail


The Sept. 17 Other Views article A solution for those sleeping on Miami’s streets , by Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado and Commissioner Marc Sarnoff, presented a misguided effort by city leaders to gain public support for what they think are the two final steps needed to end chronic homelessness.

If this most complex issue were that easy to address, then why are there thousands of chronically homeless individuals still living on the streets of every major urban U.S. city? There are many experts nationwide, including in Miami, working diligently to address the needs of the most difficult homeless population to serve.

The chronically homeless are the hardest to reach, so many of them have significant mental-health and addiction conditions. The city’s recommendations are the worst possible solutions. Overnight beds are inconsistent with the national model referred to as Housing First, an evidence-based model that recommends individualized housing and wrap-around services as the most effective method of supporting chronically homeless individuals.

According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, permanent supportive housing is one of the key strategies. Putting a person in a bed without providing services won’t solve the problem.

The Pottinger settlement is a nationally recognized landmark decision that has prevented and should continue to prevent the criminalization of people who are homeless. Arresting those who need treatment is not only inhumane, but counterproductive, too. When has having a criminal record ever helped anyone regain their standing in society? A criminal record is a significant barrier to housing and employment.

City leaders want to end homelessness in downtown, yet by criminalizing it, they will be wasting precious resources on unnecessary arrests and the resulting criminal records will make it more difficult for these individuals to achieve the very thing that the city purports to support.

The Miami Coalition for the Homeless appreciates the city’s interest on this critical issue. While we can understand and share some of the frustrations, we believe that a more effective solution to addressing the needs of the chronically homeless is to continue to work with the Homeless Trust, which has proffered several immediate actions to target the needs of this particular population. Furthermore, we hope that any modifications to the Pottinger settlement would avoid further criminalization of the homeless.

Barbara A. Ibarra, executive director, Miami Coalition for the Homeless, Miami

Read more Letters to the Editor stories from the Miami Herald

  • Cop cameras needed

    Re the Aug. 22 article Mayor Gimenez wants cameras on all police: I’m a criminal-defense lawyer and former prosecutor. I defend cops when they’re accused of a crime. I’ve handled thousands of cases, but only a small fraction had video. With the videos, the truth always seems to come out. Without video, it’s your word against that of the police, and guess who wins that argument?

  • Nan Rich slighted

    Only the cynical can exult in the short shrift Democrat Nan Rich got from most of the media, enabling her chameleon-like competitor to crush her in her party’s primary. It was a disgrace shown this accomplished woman who never once has let her party down.

  • Better border control

    Does it bother anyone besides me when we hear about all the people sneaking into this country. How do we know that all of them are just immigrants coming for a better life if we have absolutely no control over our borders? Maybe half are immigrants and half are terrorists coming in to create another 9/11. What if tons of dope is not all they are bringing in? Why would it be any harder to bring in a ton of weapons?

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