MIAMI – When the sun climbs in the sky, and only lost clouds pass through, the tall, glassy buildings reflect a rich image of Miami. One can only think then of beach or pool party, perhaps even an escape with the yacht away from the city.
While people swarm to the beach, very few remember that only a few blocks inside the heart of Miami, some people swarm under bridges and highways. That’s where they reside while forming a community that sleeps under the open sky, day or night, and most of the rainy times.
Walking up the NW 6th Avenue, you can see that some people there are residents for a long time. Improvised elevated beds of cardboards, clothes hanging to dry, and even a tent in the corner. The owner of that property can be seen often with a broom dusting in front of the tent and around his neighbors.
At another corner, a couple is sharing a two-liter bottle of Coca-Cola. She’s fixing his dreads as his lays on his back with his head on her knees. His dark skin is sunburned, and her white skin is mud-dirty. They smile at each other and talk softly.
Across the street, an older man with his ungroomed beard and long messy hair holds an older newspaper and yells at the picture in profane language. He seems upset about the government as his words spill uncontrollably out of his mouth. He pulls his hair from time to time trying to arrange it.
Although it might seem as well staged scene in a movie, it is a reality for Miami right in the shades of skyscrapers. People often avoid to even drive through this street out of fear of being attacked. This is due to the stereotyped image of homeless people throughout the world. They are viewed as dangerous and violent part of the society. Even so, every Saturday and Sunday there are kind citizens who bring them food and water, they encourage anyone to do so.
According to the most recent census in February 2015, Miami currently holds over 3,000 sheltered homeless and over 1,000 unsheltered. The city has more than 10 homeless shelters, but each can only hold a small number of people each night. All offer clean clothing and showering every day for the non-resident homeless, along with certain medical assistance, education and job placement. Depending on the budget, some shelters also have available warm, daily meals for non-residents.
Some of the most notable homeless shelters are Camillus House which welcomes any adult in need, Lotus House which focuses on helping women, children, and teens, Miami Rescue mission which is catered to men. Other ones worth mentioning are Chapman Partnership, Mother Theresa Mission of Charity, and Salvation Army Miami. Each shelter offers a volunteer program that is available to anyone interested in helping out. Please find the links below for more information.
Let us all remember, that behind the glassy skyscrapers there is someone in need that could us as little as a warm meal once in a while. Let’s not turn our back on the less fortunate, and let us all hold hands in peace.