Miami may relocate homeless to Virginia Key encampment

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Miami may relocate homeless to Virginia Key encampment

Miami officials may relocate some of the city’s homeless population to an encampment on a nearby barrier island that houses a wastewater treatment plant, according to a report.

The city government is considering the proposal that would send homeless people living on the street in densely populated areas, including the downtown area, Overtown and Little Havana, to the encampment on Virginia Key — one of five locations being discussed, the Miami Herald reported.

The Biscayne Bay island spot is considered the optimal option by city officials, the report said, though that locale, which is also near biking trails, has drawn opposition from a local cycling group.

Miami’s Virginia Key
Miami officials are considering sending homeless to live in a Virginia Key encampment.
Eagle View
City of Miami Commissioner Joe Carollo speaks during the start of a meeting
City of Miami Commissioner Joe Carollo proposed the Virginia Key spot.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

“Adjacent To Water Sewage Treatment Plant, it can smell really foul there, particularly when there is a breeze from the west,” the cycling group Miami Bike Scene wrote on its website.

The group also argued the site would not be in a secluded area, as the city has contended because the location is the parking lot to a heavily trafficked bike and hiking trail used by city residents and tourists.

The commissioner who proposed the Virginia Key spot, Joe Carollo, also backed other controversial plans connected to the homeless population, the Miami Herald reported.

A homeless person moves his tent to the other side of the street prior to a cleaning of the street by City of Miami workers, Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021, in Miami.
The homeless would be relocated from densely populated areas, including the downtown area, Overtown and Little Havana.
AP/Lynne Sladky

He spearheaded an ordinance that prohibited encampments on public property and gave police the power to arrest homeless people if they refuse to go to a shelter.  

The Herald also reported he put forward a resolution that would allow people he called “hypocrites” to take homeless people in off the street.

Multiple advocacy organizations, including the ACLU, filed a federal lawsuit weeks ago that alleged the city is violating the constitutional rights of homeless people because their personal property is destroyed while encampments are cleaned, according to the Herald.

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