MIAMI (CBSMiami) – By all accounts, Miami has done a good job with its homeless problem.
Twenty-five years ago, according to the Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust there were a little more than 8000 people living on the streets.READ MORE: 23rd Annual 'A Home For The Holidays At The Grove' Comes To CBS On Sunday, December 5th
Today, that number has dwindled to a hair over 800.
But, some worry that a law put on the books in 2020 — and possibly more coming as early as next week — could worsen the problem.
With roughly 150 homeless tents now littering Miami streets, Commissioner Joe Carollo offered up this suggestion at a recent hearing to the chagrin of many in attendance.
“Each of you can adopt a homeless and bring them to your home so that you can be humane in helping them to the next step,” Carollo uttered from the dais.
Homeless advocates tell us they thought Commissioner Carollo was just being cruel and offensive, distracting from a serious problem.
But, now it turns out, the “Adopt-A-Homeless Person” resolution is really part of the agenda at next Thursday’s commission meeting.
This line is in the resolution for those interested in adopting, “Providing a bed and daily essentials such as food, water, electricity, and any other necessities as deemed appropriate by the program at no cost to the city.”
David Peery, an attorney and homeless advocate responding, “If this is a serious proposal, if you seriously put this out, how bout if you step to the plate, walk the walk and adopt a homeless person into your home.”READ MORE: Sharp Increase In Hospitalized Children With Covid Investigated In South Africa
Peery was forced into homelessness himself during the 2008 housing crisis and is upset with the Commissioner over what he perceives as crass, ignorant comments. Peery emphatically arguing that more affordable housing, not homeless adoption, is a much better solution.
“Miami has the unenviable status as the 2nd least affordable city in the nation,” Peery added.
He is firm that homelessness is not a choice but part of greater systemic problem — critical of yet another vote set to take place at next week’s commission meeting — which would make homeless encampments illegal punishable by jail time. It’s a measure also sponsored by Commissioner Carollo.
“Arrests do not solve homelessness, they just saddle people with criminal records and re-traumatize people and they’re right back on the streets again,” cautions Peery.
“When they believe they are being burdened by encampments outside their homes, commissioners have to do something,” added Ron Book, Executive Director of the Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust.
Book tells CBS 4 News he agrees with another law Miami City Commissioners passed back in July of 2020 prohibiting large feedings of the homeless outdoors.
‘If you feed people on the streets you’re giving them the opportunity to stay.”
We spoke to several homeless advocates who’ve been fined in recent weeks, upwards of $250-dollars for feeding the homeless outside. But, they say they’ll continue to do so.MORE NEWS: Florida Panthers Find Ways To Rally Again, Top Blues 4-3 In Shootout
CBS 4 reached out to Miami City Hall for this story, but received no response.