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The homeless are people too, right?

Miami Times Editorial Department | 9/26/2013, 9 a.m.
The homeless of Miami are probably used to being treated like playing cards — shuffled about like deuces or pushed ...

The homeless of Miami are probably used to being treated like playing cards — shuffled about like deuces or pushed from one corner of the City to another, as if they were mindless pawns in an endless game of chess. Decisions about their welfare, their needs and how to generally take “care” of them are often made by independently-wealthy politicians and bureaucrats who know nothing about the daily challenges facing the homeless.

Meanwhile, some homeless service providers are so intent on maintaining grants that pad their pockets, that they often force feed the homeless with temporary fixes and short term programs that eliminate, for a moment or two, these ungainly, unfortunate eyesores from the purview of tourists and business owners. Who wants to be bothered by an old woman waving a cardboard sign that reads, “Homeless, please help?” Even worse, who wants to be frightened by an unkempt, one-legged man in a wheelchair who bravely rolls up to your car, stopped at a red light, and begs for change?

Isn’t the best strategy to join forces with Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez and City Commissioner Marc Sarnoff, who also represents the Downtown Development Authority, and advocate for more beds so we can get the homeless off our streets, get them a place to clean up and improve the ambiance of our downtown corridor? We think not!

It could work, if we had enough beds and could convince all of the homeless to be locked up together every night. But that would only solve the nightly dilemma. Where do 500 homeless go during the day? How do they occupy their time and how do they eat? What do they really need to escape the cycle of homelessness? Let’s just ask them and begin to treat them more like people — the way we’d like to be treated.