Video of Feces Downtown Sparks New Round of Fighting Over Public Toilets for Homeless
A new video shows feces and urine downtown.
The video begins with an image of feces next to a building. Then it cuts to an image of feces in a bucket. The next two and a half minutes show many other images of feces. And urine. And that's it.
Titled "Homeless Urine & Feces in Miami May 2015," the YouTube video was emailed to reporters and city officials yesterday by Jose Goyanes, a Miami businessman and board member of the city's Downtown Development Authority (DDA). The video is Goyanes' latest broadside against the Miami Homeless Trust and its president, Ron Book, for what he calls a public health crisis — the lack of public toilets downtown.
Goyanes sent the video with the message "That was just 1 day in Downtown! This is a health crisis critical in nature and Ron Book, Victoria Mallette & The Miami Dade Homeless Trust with their $55 Million Dollar Budget won't do anything about it. If you care about the homeless or your community, call your County Commissioner!"
The video comes after a bitter, very public monthlong spat between Goyanes and Book, the megalobbyist who serves as chairman of the county's Homeless Trust. Last month, Goyanes advocated for the trust to pay for a new $100,000 public-toilet pilot program, the Miami Herald reported.
But Book rebuked Goyanes by calling the lack of toilets a "downtown issue" and suggesting it should instead be funded by the DDA, Goyanes' agency.
"Mr. Book maybe after running the Trust like a third world dictator for the last 18 years you have forgotten to read your mission statement," Goyanes wrote to the trust chairman in an email cc'ed to reporters around town.
Public feces and urine aside, it is clear that homelessness remains a serious problem for Miami-Dade County: In one recent count by the trust, more than 4,000 people were found living in county shelters and on the streets; the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development recently allocated Miami-Dade $32 million in grants to help combat the problem.
Here's Goyanes' video, if you can stomach it over breakfast:
Update: Book replied to New Times' request for comment with the following response:
"I chose not to look at Mr. Goyanes’ video. Mr. Goyanes seems to believe that the Homeless Trust is responsible for anything and everything involving homeless individuals, and he is simply mistaken. We are not going to be putting toilets or showers in downtown Miami, which we believe serves to deter getting the chronic homeless, off the streets. We’ve looked at this several times over the last 10 to 12 years and we are just not doing it."