Watch CBS News

Housing the homeless brings mixed reactions to Virginia Key residents

Housing the homeless brings mixed reactions to Virginia Key residents
Housing the homeless brings mixed reactions to Virginia Key residents 02:43

MIAMI - Tiny Houses for the homeless. 

City of Miami commissioners voted in favor of the pilot program last night after the idea of an encampment went south.  

The plan is to build the homes on the oceanfront park of Virginia Key, one of the most historical landmarks in Miami.  

But there are plenty of people against that idea.

"They're going to be so far away from the services of the city of Miami, their ability to get jobs, to get back into society to climb the ladder to get a key to an apartment," said Commissioner Ken Russell.

The plan is to build 50 to 100 tiny homes in Virginia Key for homeless people to live in. 

CBS4 spoke to people today who say they're not opposed to the idea, but they say Virginia Key is the wrong location.

"I'm not for the idea. It's strange," said Steve, a fisherman from Key Biscayne.

"In my eyes, all of these things are in danger. Our environmental gems are in danger. Our historical legacy is in danger," said N. Patrick Range II, Chairman of Virginia Key Beach Park Trust.

In last night's commission meeting, the idea of a homeless encampment was shot down.

"Encampments like the one that was originally proposed would have jeopardized our $41,000,000 of HUD funding," said Ron Book of the Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust.

Then, a new proposal, tiny homes.

"If you take 50-100 people, chronic individuals, off the streets of Miami and put them in tiny homes, you will make a dramatic difference," said Book.

Book says to him, the location doesn't make a difference, they're open to any spot.

"We believe there are, based on our last count, somewhere around 972 individuals unsheltered within the county. There are about 2400 in shelters," he explained.

But Commissioner Russell isn't so sure tiny homes are the solution. 

"It seems to be this is an entire effort to sweep the homeless under the rug.  Out of sight, out of mind."

Virginia Key Beach Park Trust says this historic park is paradise renewed and it took them years to achieve it. 

They worry everything they've worked for could be in jeopardy.

"Our efforts have been to provide a clean safe fun environment for people to come and enjoy the environmental and historical gems we have to offer," said Range II.

A fisherman we spoke with says a place with this much history should be preserved and protected.

"If there were 100 homes here and the homeless people were grateful to live here it wouldn't affect me to come here and go fishing.  It's just a very poor and lazy idea."

It will take at least six months for the city to buy the tiny homes and set up utility connections to the land.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.