The readers’ forum

Give Miami the tools to deal with the homeless

 

Our family has owned and operated a single-location department store in downtown Miami since 1965. We have worked hard to build our business and serve our customers daily. We are also residents of downtown.

In 2005, we relocated and updated our store to a larger space on Flagler Street with the vision of helping create a vibrant urban core. Though we have come a long way since 2005, many people tell us that they do not want to come downtown because they are afraid of the people who are homeless.

Since we were teenagers working at the store, we have seen the same homeless man, Charles, walking the streets of downtown. We watched our father try to help Charles, but he always refused all attempts. Twenty years later, we, too, have tried to help him, but Charles is still living on the streets of downtown.

He belongs to a small part of the homeless population that prefers to remain on the streets. Daily he faces the unfortunate realities of not having proper bathroom facilities, shelter or food. Under the current law, the homeless can urinate, defecate or start a fire to cook, without any repercussions. A city of Miami resident, however, would be arrested, as would a homeless person outside the city boundary. Miami should have the same laws as every other community in the county regarding the homeless.

We have been involved with the Miami-Dade Homeless Trust and are proud of the excellent programs it has implemented. However, today’s laws were created before resources existed for the homeless, and essentially allow them to damage the quality of life for other citizens.

Our family supports the city’s efforts to amend the Pottinger settlement so that the homeless can get the help they need and so that all residents are equally protected under the law.

Brian, Randy and Pepe Alonso,

La Epoca, Miami

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