Miami-Dade Agency Estimates Rise in Homelessness

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A homeless man sleeps on a bench in Museum Park in downtown Miami during Miami-Dade County’s annual Homeless Census (PIT). Different teams conducted the annual homeless count from Homestead to Miami Beach through North Miami on Thursday, August 18, 2022.

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The number of homeless people in Miami-Dade County may be on the rise, according to estimates from the county’s homelessness agency.

The Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust, a tax-funded agency founded in the 1990s, noted a 23% increase in the number of people living on the streets outside of shelters in a biannual census taken in the city. night of August 19 to 28. 18. The Trust released the new figures on Friday, statistics meant to offer insight into the state of homelessness in the county.

During the nightly count, more than 50 volunteers and hordes of police counted the number of people seen camping in public parks, under overpasses, along city streets or sidewalks and in shelters. The Trust estimates that 1,140 people are currently living outside of homeless shelters, hotels and other temporary accommodation. About 2,598 are accommodated, representing a 7% increase since last summer’s count.

Combining numbers of people inside and outside the shelter, data from this year’s summer census estimated that the overall countywide homeless population has increased by 11% since the last year.

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A homeless person spotted in construction concrete barricades under the MacArthur Causeway in Miami during Miami-Dade County’s annual Homeless Count (PIT). Different teams conducted the annual homeless count from Homestead to Miami Beach through North Miami on Thursday, August 18, 2022. Pedro Portal [email protected]

Trust chairman Ron Book, a longtime government lobbyist who led the agency for years, said the figures underscore the need for very low-income permanent housing in an area where the cost of living has risen. significantly increased.

“It’s infuriating when you realize how little housing is available,” he said.

Book said a “housing first” approach is a next step in helping homeless people, echoing guidelines issued by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, which provides millions of dollars to the Trust. The summer census, a voluntary county initiative, is one of two annual counts. The first is mandated by HUD each January.

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A homeless man lies on the sidewalk at Museum Park in downtown Miami during Miami-Dade County’s annual homeless census, Thursday, August 18, 2022. Pedro Portal [email protected]

The Trust’s summer count, while not required by HUD, is accuracy dependent. The numbers are in constant ebb and flow, but tend to rise in the summer months, according to the Trust. This year, the January street count totaled 970 homeless people, nearly 200 people less than the August street count.

This year’s summer census comes weeks after a contentious debate erupted in Miami when the city commission approved a plan to build “tiny houses” on the northeast shore of Virginia Key. After days of outcry, the city has put the plan on hold, for now.

At the board meeting, Book excitedly announced that the Trust had reached an agreement to acquire Mia Casa, which previously operated as an assisted living facility in North Miami.

Mia Casa has been welcoming unhoused people aged 65 and over since April 2020, following concerns about the county’s homeless seniors, who are at higher risk of developing health complications if exposed to COVID- 19. Currently, 97 people are housed in Mia Casa. More than 500 seniors have used the facility as a shelter since April.

“We are now entering a whole new chapter in our homelessness continuum,” Book said.

Acquiring Mia Casa could provide options for those who cannot wait in county shelters — the majority of which, Book added, are at capacity — and serve as a reminder of the number of people living in Miami-Dade homeless for future counts.

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From left, Homeless Trust President Ronald L. Book joins City of Miami Outreach Specialists Ricky Leath and Christian Candelier at Museum Park during Miami-Dade County’s annual Homeless Census . Pedro Portal [email protected]

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A homeless man sleeps on the sidewalk of NE 6th Street in downtown Miami during the annual Miami-Dade County Homeless Count (PIT), where different teams conducted the annual homeless count from Homestead in Miami Beach for North Miami. Pedro Portal [email protected]
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Miami police officer and Homeless Trust president Ronald L. Book, center, joined City of Miami outreach specialists, from left, Christian Candelier and Ricky Leath at Museum Park during the annual census Miami-Dade County homeless on Thursday, August 18. 2022. Pedro Portal [email protected]

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A homeless man sleeps on a bench in Museum Park as City of Miami outreach specialists Christian Candelier, left, and Ricky Leath walked through the park during the annual homeless count at a specific time (PIT). Pedro Portal [email protected]

This story was originally published August 27, 2022 5:00 a.m.

Joey Flechas covers government and public affairs for the City of Miami for the Herald, from votes at City Hall to neighborhood news. He won a Sunshine State Award for exposing a Miami Beach political candidate’s ties to an illegal campaign donation. He graduated from the University of Florida.


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