MIAMI - The Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust says they have a contract to buy a La Quinta Hotel on Caribbean Boulevard and turn it into permanent housing for seniors and veterans struggling with homelessness, but the town of Cutler Bay isn't sold."
"Homelessness is a very scary thing. And if you get with the people that can help you, you'll see that there's somebody out there reaching for you and they want to help you," said Marilyn Light, a former homeless person.
Marilyn Light found herself homeless after her husband passed away.
That's when she found Mia Casa in North Miami, a homeless senior housing complex developed by the Homeless Trust.
"To let people know that being homeless although it can be frightening, it could also be something that can be taken care of. Done politely," said Light.
The Homeless Trust presented its plans to the town of Cutler Bay to convert the hotel into permanent housing.
They would charge rent, help people get work and navigate post-homelessness life, but some residents have concerns.
"The residents, many who have struggled with substance abuse in the past can easily access alcohol and strippers all courtesy of the Miami Dade homeless trust massive oversight," said a resident.
"I think I do have an idea. Since the homeless trust seems to have plenty of money to buy whatever they want. Why don't they look at some of the land that is further south and put up those tiny homes," said another resident.
"This is in a redevelopment area for the South Land Mall and this is going to stick out like a swore thumb," said Eduardo Verano, a Cutler Bay resident.
The Homeless Trust chairman says they have it all wrong.
"People don't understand what the face of homelessness looks like in our community. And again I would like to ask everybody, everybody that was in this room that made ugly comments stigmatizing, stereotyping comments I wonder what they would feel like if it was their grandmother or grandfather or great grandmother or great grandfather of their brother or sister," said Ron Book, chair of the Homeless Trust.
Now city council has 60 days to find an alternative location.
"This is just a piece that may not fit in. We understand there's a need to serve the homeless. We want to help them look for a different place. This may not be the best fit for what's going on in Cutler Bay," said Cutler Bay Mayor, Tim Meerbott.
After the 60 days is up, the Miami-Dade County Commission will vote and decide on a location for this project.
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