The city of Miami passed a plan to move its homeless population to a camp that will be built in Virginia Key Beach North Point Park.
The area is currently an open field in the park. The location of the camp is ironically located right across the water from the most exclusive place to live, Fisher Island.
This park was busy with activity on Monday when NBC 6 visited the site. Tourists and locals were out at the city park. When they learned about the plan for a homeless camp, some were shocked.
“Oh man, I mean I want them to have a place to stay, but, I just feel like there is so much action and attraction for everybody. The bikes and the canoes and I feel like it’s going to take away. It might take some people ... it might scare them away to come over here,” said Carlos Alfonso, who rides his bike there.
The plan is to build anywhere from 50-100 mini homes. The city says it will take roughly six months to purchase the housing and then electricity will need to be installed. The location is at the back of the park between the bike trails and Virginia Key Outdoor Center, which rents kayaks and paddle boards.
“Horrified. I’m horrified on many levels,” said the owner of Virginia Key Outdoor Center, Esther Alonso. “This island is a poor man’s retreat.”
Monday was also the 77th Birthday of Virginia Key Beach Park, and the executive director of the Park Trust says news of the homeless camp is not being celebrated.
“To some in the community, this feels like something else being dumped on the island that was the colored only beach,” said Guy Forchion, the executive director of the Virginia Key Beach Park Trust.
He says this plan isn’t good for the safety of residents who enjoy hanging out here or the homeless.
“You are talking about a population that needs a lot of services. We are roughly two miles from Rickenbacker Causeway, which is where public transportation does touch,” said Forchion.
There is a petition going around to stop the city from building the homeless camp in the park. But the city says it’s moving forward with the pilot program.