This is how Miami’s intractable homeless problem is manifesting itself.
For years, a debate has raged between local business owners concerned about the visible effects of Miami’s homeless population (which the Miami Herald says numbers roughly 400 in the downtown area alone on a given day) and those like the Miami-Dade Homeless Trust, who seek a more lasting solution.
The debate escalated recently when Jose Goyanes, a local businessman and member of the city’s Downtown Development Authority (DDA), released a map showing all the locations downtown where they had found defecation and challenged the Trust to do something.
Goyanes also made an accompanying video montage of some of these spots that is pretty freaking gross so we won’t embed it but if you want to watch, it’s here (where the clip has been viewed…more than 3,000 times).
Trust head Ron Book was infuriated by the map and video.
“We’re in the business of providing homes, not poop stations,” he told the trust board in May.
But Goyanes got everyone’s attention. Now Mayor Tomás Regalado says he’s willing to throw down $500,000 to put modern port-a-potties around the city.
“I really feel that I owe it to downtown Miami,” Regalado told the Herald. “It’s an economic engine of the city.”
The $500,000 would only pay for just two portable toilets similar to ones that now travel around San Francisco, another city plagued by chronic homelessness.
That may not seem like much, but the Herald says there are only seven public restrooms in the entire downtown area.
Still, as even Goyanes would likely acknowledge, it will do nothing to address the underlying chronic conditions, like drug use and persistent unemployment, that cause Miami’s homeless problem to persist. The Trust has for years been fighting for more money to build more forms of housing for the city’s homeless population, and refused to provide money for the toilets.
“Anything that makes it easier for the chronic population to remain on the streets is not in our interest,” Book told the Herald.
Still, even for 400 people, this seems like it will represent some relief.
The Mayor was scheduled to present his plan Friday.