The city of Miami has approved a plan to build 50-100 “mini homes” for homeless people on an island in a move that has sparked controversy.
The city’s pilot program will take roughly six months to build the tiny homes and install electricity in Virginia Key North Beach Park. Many Floridians use the island for recreational activities and are worried that the new living spaces will detract from its beauty.
Esther Alonso, the owner of Virginia Key Outdoor Center, said she was “horrified on many levels” with the plan. Her business rents kayaks, bikes, and other outdoor recreational equipment to use around the island.
“We’re gonna be kicked out of here,” Alonso said during a Saturday protest against the pilot program. “I’m gonna lose my business, and I’m most worried about my employees because they don’t deserve this.”
Another local worried that the mini homes would ruin the island, yet understood homeless people’s plights.
“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,” a man named Carlos Alfonso said in reaction to the plan.
“It might take some people … it might scare them away to come over here,” he added.
During segregation, the island was used as the “colored only beach,” according to a local official.
“To some in the community, this feels like something else being dumped on the island that was the colored only beach,” Guy Forchion, the executive director of the Virginia Key Beach Park Trust, told the press.
Forchion also worried that the island’s geographic location would harm its potential new residents.
“You are talking about a population that needs a lot of services,” Forchion observed. “We are roughly two miles from Rickenbacker Causeway, which is where public transportation does touch.”
San Jose, California, is attempting a similar plan while also receiving pushback from the public.
Shaunn Cartwright, an activist with the San Jose Homeless Coalition, claimed those opposed to the idea were practicing “economic xenophobia.”
“We need tiny homes and pallet shelters all over the city and in every district,” Cartwright recently told the press.
“Sending them to an area where they are doomed to fail because of the economic xenophobia of the residents does not allow them to succeed no matter how great the plan will be,” Cartwright added.
According to recent data, approximately 970 homeless people live on Miami streets, and more than 2,400 are in city shelters.
Reporting from The Daily Wire.