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

  • Lessons from China

    Kudos to my congresswoman, U.S. Rep Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, and Sen. Marco Rubio for sending their staffers to China. This should help open their eyes (and the eyes of their staffers) to what a real and effective policy toward Cuba should look like.

  • Corruption at corrections

    Randall Jordan-Amparo’s death in the hands of a system of a callous, corrupt crew in Florida’s corrections system is outrageous and unacceptable. I thank the Miami Herald for illuminating this travesty of justice.

  • FIU expansion has benefits

    Through the years, I have enjoyed the Youth Fair with my family. I have also been delighted at how much Florida International University has grown and flourished.

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

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