Miami residents are angry at a pilot program to build a homeless encampment on a secluded beach just off an exclusive island that was once home to Oprah Winfrey, Derek Jeter and Mel Brooks.
Miami-Dade County’s Seventh District has sparked anger after quietly approving a plan to build 50 to 100 miniature homes in the North Point Park section of Virginia Key Beach.
Residents are upset with the plan for a variety of reasons, according to reports.
Environmentalists believe the encampment will destroy the island’s fragile ecosystem, while recreationists believe it will hamper their ability to spend time outdoors unhindered, according to The Daily Beast.
Homeless advocates also oppose the plan because they say there aren’t enough resources or infrastructure on the island to facilitate access to transportation, sewers and food.
“You’re taking the chronically homeless and shelter-resistant population, bringing them to an isolated area, removing them from everything they know, providing only mobile services and isolating them pretty much on a island two miles from the nearest road,” Esther Alonso, owner of the Virginia Key Outdoor Center, told WSVN-TV.
Virginia Key, a largely isolated island, is currently home to a public magnetic high school as well as a sewage treatment plant. The nearest grocery store is about six miles away.
It’s also right next to Key Biscayne and Fisher Island, home to some of the most expensive real estate in the country.
Celebrities who have purchased property in these areas include Argentinian soccer icon Lionel Messi, actor Andy Garcia, pop star Cher, tennis legends Boris Becker and ‘Pretty Woman’ star Andre Agassi. Julia Roberts and hockey star Pavel “Russian Rocket” Bure.
On Thursday, hundreds of residents expressed their displeasure at a District 7 town hall broadcast via Zoom.
In the comments section, county commissioners were inundated with posts denouncing their plan.
“Are the homeless people who are going to be housed illegal immigrants or are we going to house homeless American citizens first?” wrote a resident.
The commentator added, “if we’re putting taxpayers’ money into not even taking care of American citizens, we have to completely refocus.”
Another commenter said: “Bad, bad idea. Bunch of dummies.
“These ‘tiny houses’ would be up for rent on Airbnb in no time,” said another town hall attendee.
County officials voted 3-2 to move the plan forward, but Ken Russell, a commissioner opposed to the so-called “transition zone” in Virginia Key, said Miami Mayor Francis Suarez had the ” ability to veto any city action. commission.”
“It’s embarrassing for the city,” Russell told The Daily Beast.
“It perpetuates this reaction of the inhabitants of the type ‘not here, do it there’. It’s not only that this isn’t the right place for this idea, but it’s the wrong solution.