Protect Virginia Key
About what Occurred at City Hall
City of Miami Commissioners Voted to House the Homeless on Virginia Key
On Tuesday Night, Social Media was flooded by posts of a City of Miami powerpoint presentation that proposed housing chronically houseless individuals inside Virginia Key North Point Park. This plan snuck into the City of Miami Commission Meeting’s agenda only Tuesday- minimizing public input. Comissioner Carollo did not introduce it as an ordinance but as a “discussion item” that turned into an approved plan.
On Thursday (07/28), City of Miami staff presented a list of three possible sites across the city that could host a shelter. Initially, Commissioner Joe Carollo and Chairwoman Christine King were the only two votes in favor of a pilot program to build several dozen small rooms on the northeast end of Virginia Key. Commissioner Reyes, Russell, and De La Portilla voted against it. One hour after Miami commissioners rejected a concept to create a temporary homeless shelter on Virginia Key, Commissioner Alex De La Portilla flipped his vote, allowing the city to pursue a plan to set up “tiny homes” for 50 to 100 people on the island.
Why Virginia Key North Point Park is not the Optimal Site
There is very little if any, infrastructure existing in the area proposed for this project. The subject area is highly vulnerable to hurricanes as it is immediately next to the ocean. Do we intend to rebuild the little homes every time we have a hurricane? Do we want to uproot the island's population every time we have a storm warning? Virginia Key is one of the first places where they mandate evacuations when we have hurricanes.
Though the commission has suggested trolleys going in and out of VKNPP, the problem remains that any services are, at a minimum, 6 miles (by road) away from where this project is slated to take place. It takes at least 15 to 20 minutes to reach the nearest hospital, plus arrival time if you need emergency services. This includes EMS, Fire, and police. Anyone familiar with emergency situations knows that they are extremely time-sensitive; why would we put a vulnerable population as far from any dispatch station as possible when we have other locations that are in proximity of hospitals and dispatch centers?
The area is inhospitable to residency without extreme amounts of development. If you've ever been out near the water at night for more than a few minutes, then you've been swarmed by biting gnats and mosquitoes. Under what conditions is it ideal to effectively sentence the homeless population that would be seeking residence here to constantly being tormented by bugs if they want to walk outside of the little homes for even a few minutes?
What Can I Do?
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We fear that in a matter of years, Virginia Key will be paved over with resorts, hotels, more restaurants, and likely even apartments for the wealthy. If we lose Virginia Key, we lose the final vestige of nature in Miami. If the City of Miami proceeds with this program, we all (400,000 + Miami Residents and countless more outside the city limits) lose Virginia Key.
Please, join me and countless others in our request that the City fund existing local organizations that can immediately provide assistance to our most imperiled homeless population and demand that the City of Miami codify protection from development for Virginia Key Beach North Point Park and the rest of Virginia Key.
Contact Your City Officials:
Mayor Francis Suarez (@francissuarez)
District #1 Alex Diaz de la Portilla (@alexdlpmia)
District #2 Ken Russell (@kenrussellmiami)
District #3 Joe Carollo (@joecarollonow)
District #4 Manolo Reyes (@manolo4miami)
District #5 Christine King (@iamchristineking)
City Manager Arthur Noriega