Homeless advocates say those on the street neglected during crisis

Groups say government and agencies need to step up with resources

MIAMI, Fla. – Several organizations are out in force downtown Miami. They are testing the homeless, handing out tents and toiletries for those in need.

"These are people that are out on our streets. These are deserving and worthy of care and should be protected," said Philip Agnew of Dream Defenders.

Armen Henderson, M.D., the internal medicine doctor who was recently stopped by police outside his home for simply unloading medical supplies, said the attention he received from news stories actually helped his cause. “What happened was good because it brought greater attention to the reason why we are here today,” said Henderson.

They are demanding Miami-Dade County government and the Homeless Trust step up and expand resources for Miami’s homeless community.

Their idea is to make hotels and dormitory rooms available for the homeless to shelter in place. They are asking local governments to cancel rent and mortgage payments and halt all evictions. They are asking to put an end to arresting the homeless, simply because they are homeless.

“I don’t see them coming in Overtown. I see everyone still packed up together. I see everybody don’t have masks on,” Clayton Towles, a 55-year-old homeless man remarked and who said he has concerns over lack of coordination.

We talked to the chair of the Homeless Trust, Ron Book, who said his organization is already out there working and said his organization is the only one in the state testing homeless folks on the street. They also have fixed testing at Camillus House.

“Seven week ago, we started going out to the streets. We have over 600 rooms tied up, under contract to put people in self-isolation,” said Book.

Book said, however, that the toughest thing is trying to convince many of the city’s homeless to get tested and to seek shelter.

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