COCONUT GROVE, FLA. (WSVN) - - A final vote on a controversial ordinance addressing homeless people in the City of Miami was delayed following a protest held outside City Hall and powerful testimony from opponents.
7News cameras captured demonstrators as they chanted and held up signs, Thursday afternoon.
“We need houses, not handcuffs!” protesters chanted.
“We cannot arrest our way out of homelessness,” said a speaker as he addressed demonstrators.
Meanwhile, commissioners discussed Ordinance SR 2, which would make homeless camps on public property illegal.
Under the ordinance, violators who are offered a place to stay but refuse to leave their makeshift living spaces could be arrested.
The ordinance passed on its first vote back in September. Commissioners were expected to make a final vote on Thursday, but that did not happen.
The final vote was pushed to Oct. 28 after a protest was held outside Miami City Hall.
Inside the chamber, many people lined up to speak during public comment, most of them against SR 2.
Among the opponents of the ordinance who addressed commissioners was Alana Greer with the Community Justice Project.
“This policy is not only morally wrong; it’s going to cost millions of dollars and condemn people to many more years of homelessness,” she said.
Audrey Aradanas with Miami Homes For All echoed Greer’s remarks.
“I’m here to speak in opposition to SR 2. This measure will criminalize people experiencing homelessness and make it increasingly difficult for folks to qualify for housing in the future,” she said.
Others spoke in favor of the ordinance, including a priest.
“Not allowing tent living is not criminalizing the homeless. On the contrary, it is criminal to allow human beings to live in tents,” said the priest, who did not identify himself. “Promoting this lifestyle shows a lack of true compassion for human beings.”
From now until Oct. 28, commissioners said, they will meet with those who say they have alternatives that would potentially avoid this ordinance altogether.
“Let’s have an honest, honest, conversation, with facts,” said Commissioner Alex Diaz de la Portilla.
“And that’s why we’re here, commissioner,” said Constance Collins with Lotus House.
“The reason we deferred [the vote] was to have a conversation with those activists who say they had a solution,” said Commissioner Jeffrey Watson.
“I pray we come together. There are solutions. Let’s find them together,” said Collins.
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