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Miami Commissioners Expected To Vote On Ordinance Banning Homeless Encampments

MIAMI (CBSMiami) -- City of Miami commissioners are set to vote on an ordinance that would make homeless encampments illegal.

"I am a United States veteran and I am ashamed of America," says Karen, a homeless woman.

The ordinance, which has already prompted protests and has homeless advocates asking city commissioners to rethink the proposal, is expected to draw protests once again on Thursday.

"We are being attacked every day by the homeless people. Miami has a huge homeless population issue," said one woman addressing Commissioners.

The ordinance prohibits encampments on public property and in entryways, and has the support of nearly every commissioner, except for Ken Russell.

It would give police the authority to give violators written warnings and instruct them to go to a shelter. Those who refused could be arrested.

Proponents say the ordinance criminalizes homelessness. We talked to Matt Marr, a Professor of Sociology at FIU who's studied homelessness for years. Marr says, "Criminalization doesn't work. It costs too much money and scatters people around." He says on any given day there are between 3,000 and 4,000 homeless people in Miami-Dade County.

The measure defines "encampments" as the presence of any tent or temporary living structure for human habitation, people using heating devices such as camping stoves, grills or heaters and/or the "unauthorized accumulation of personal property," of up to three cubic feet.

"I am strongly against the criminalization of homelessness," says Gabby Cordell with the Choose Love Foundation.

A final vote is expected to take place during Thursday's meeting.

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