The recent Miami-Dade County Commission vote on homelessness in downtown Miami was an important step forward in reducing chronic homelessness in the urban core. As a result of this measure, the next 90 days will see unprecedented collaboration and coordination between both city and county leadership as we work together to identify solutions for downtown’s homeless population.
Downtown Miami not only stands as South Florida’s largest employment hub and economic engine, it also houses an overwhelming majority of its homeless population. Turning a blind eye hurts us all, and we at the Miami Downtown Development Authority are hopeful that this vote will result in meaningful change on the ground.
Timing for this measure could not be better or more critical. As it stands, the city of Miami’s Shelter Program, which provides more than 100 extra temporary beds, is set to expire at the end of this month. Without support from the county and Homeless Trust, these homeless will return to their cardboard or newspapers on the street with no access to food, bathrooms, showers or support services.
Our goal over the coming weeks will now be to roll up our sleeves and partner together to chart a path forward. And while we agree with the Homeless Trust that permanent housing should be the ultimate goal, only funding macro-level solutions ignores the realities that we face on the ground today — forcing our homeless to live in squalid conditions and leaving our residents and small business owners to fend for themselves.
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We need to start small and we need to start now if we are to make a difference for those looking to come off our city streets. At the same time, we welcome any ideas from our partners at the county as to how best to accomplish this end.
Through an allocation of resources, innovative thinking and funding, we can create meaningful solutions for our residents, businesses, and the hundreds of homeless seeking to access shelter and the continuum of care.
Alyce M. Robertson, executive director, Miami Downtown Development Authority, Miami