MIAMI (CBSMiami) – When the sun goes down, more than a few are lighting up crack pipes and injecting opioids underneath the Dolphin 836 Expressway in Miami.
Four streets between Northwest 2nd Avenue and Northwest 1st Avenue have become home to drug users, transients and the mentally ill.
Some call it an ‘opioid den’ because of the rise in drug use and open prostitution.
“I’ve never seen these many people shooting drugs, not even in the sixties,” an area resident complained.
School children walk through the area which straddles the Adrienne Arsht center in the Overtown section of the city.
One 14-year-old girl expressed her dismay at having to see prostitution in the open.
“I see this man and lady, she was on her knees. He was standing there. They see me and keep on,” she said.
The streets are now the center of a public health investigation into the transmission of Hepatitis C and HIV.
Two weeks ago the Florida Health Department sent a letter to the Miami Police Department warning them not to relocate anyone.
The letter said, “Disbursement or relocation will significantly impact our ability to find those individuals and complete our investigation.”
It has gotten so bad that city and county leaders have made it a top priority to address the crisis.
“I’m in a position where I can stop people from dying and that matters to me,” said John Schmidt, a former addict.
Miami’s Homeless Trust Chair Ron Book says they started focusing on solutions back in June after he saw the crisis firsthand.
“We have a health problem and I believe we have pulled together all the resources to move folks into treatment,” he says.
Book says they are identifying available beds to move as many people as possible off the streets into treatment.
We’ve been identifying treatment resources at Jackson and other facilities to move aggressively as we can,” said Book.
The goal is to begin moving people out by next week.