Miami to Make Revisions to Homeless Rights

For months, Miami leaders have talked about asking a federal court to revise a ruling that gave the city’s homeless the right to conduct “life-sustaining” acts without threat of being arrested. Back in April of 2013 the Miami city Commissioners voted unanimously to move forward with asking for modification of the ruling. Recently, the Miami Mayor Carlos Gimenez has expressed that he supports the effort.

Miami city officials are seeking to make revisions to the guidelines for homeless that was inspired from the Pottinger legal case against the city of Miami. Currently, under the guidelines set, life sustaining and involuntary harmless acts can range from creation of cooking fires, to public loitering, and littering. These guidelines state if the homeless person refuses an available bed they can be arrested for the minor offenses. The city has moved forward with the purchase of additional beds for the homeless in shelters. At this time, the beds are not readily available.

The major revisions that are being petitioned:

-Allow police to detain chronically homeless if help is refused three times in 180 days.

-Creating Fires in parks, obstructing sidewalks, and public urination would not be a part of the current definition of “life sustaining acts”

-Give police authority to seize and destroy property left in public spaces.

Pushed by aggressive panhandling and scaring of people who live and work downtown was the cause for movement on the issue. Also, as it currently stands, if something appears to belong to homeless the city cannot seize or destroy the item. This has been cited as a security issue due to bags that could potentially harbor harm.