Homelessness

Can You Guess Which Miami Commissioner Wants Residents to "Adopt-A-Homeless Person"?

Joe Carollo, Miami city commissioner and aspiring savior of the homeless
Joe Carollo, Miami city commissioner and aspiring savior of the homeless Photo by Commissioner Joe Carollo/Facebook
During a Miami City Commission meeting on October 14, commissioners voted on a controversial ordinance sponsored by Commissioner Joe Carollo that aims to ban homeless encampments, such as tents and other temporary living structures, on public property and in entryways throughout the city.

Carollo, who is up for re-election of his District 3 seat on November 2, interjected at one point during public comment to suggest that the city create an "Adopt-A-Homeless Person" program through which citizens could help people experiencing homelessness. "I'm sick of this hypocrisy!" he shouted.

"Now how many of you, raise your hands, want to adopt the homeless?" Carollo asked the crowd of speakers, many of whom had criticized the ordinance for criminalizing homelessness. The commissioner then signaled to the city clerk to "make a list of all the people here that want to adopt the homeless so that they can bring [them] into their home and they can give them all the care, the love, the humane treatment that they want."

Though the commission passed the homeless ban by a vote of 4-1, Carollo's bizarre adoption outburst seemed destined to fade from memory like a fart in an elevator. An elected official couldn't possibly be serious about setting up a government apparatus wherein individual citizens can foster grown-ass adults who are experiencing homelessness as if they were rescuing abandoned pets from the pound.


Turns out he could.

Because as absurd as Joe Carollo can be, he's rarely kidding: His "Adopt-A-Homeless Person Assistance Program" resolution is on the commission meeting agenda for a final vote at 9 a.m. on October 28. If the majority of commissioners vote in favor of the legislation next Thursday, it be would become effective immediately.

The resolution directs City Manager Art Noriega to establish an "ADOPT-A-HOMELESS PERSON ASSISTANCE PROGRAM TO PROVIDE AID TO HOMEOWNERS IN THE CITY THAT ARE WILLING TO ASSIST THE LOCAL HOMELESS POPULATION BY WELCOMING A HOMELESS INDIVIDUAL INTO THEIR HOME TO LIVE WITH THEM BY PROVIDING A BED AND DAILY ESSENTIALS SUCH AS FOOD, WATER, ELECTRICITY."

The resolution also instructs Noriega to explore all viable options to establish the program at no cost to the city, as well as to secure grants from the Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust or other agencies to reimburse homeowners who participate in the program.


"This resolution is a joke, right?" says Dean Bairaktaris, a homeless advocate in Fort Lauderdale who is experiencing homelessness. "Who's going to adopt anyone? It's a fucking sick joke."

Commissioner Ken Russell was the sole vote against the ordinance on October 14. He tells New Times he doesn't believe the city needs to "come up with new concepts," nor to criminalize being homeless as a solution to homelessness. He says 500 units of permanent supportive housing would get people out of shelters and, in turn, reduce the city's homeless population.

"The solutions to homelessness exist and do not require reinventing the wheel," Russell insists. "We have the land and we have the funds and I hope to work with my fellow commissioners on proven solutions that we can implement now."

Carollo did not respond to numerous requests for comment via email and voice message.
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Alex DeLuca is a fellow at Miami New Times.
Contact: Alex DeLuca