1000 Miami Stories
What if we all knew why the person sleeping on the street outside our buildings was there? By Stephen Dutton.
I just met Maria Victoria, a US citizen who moved to Miami from Havana in 1963. After a failed marriage and losing a young daughter to neighborhood violence, she lost her job and had no choice but to sleep outdoors. She normally chooses a place in Bayfront Park, but because of the Pandemic she has been bundling herself with all her possessions alongside my building on NE 3rd Street.
When I asked her about going to one of the shelters, she remarked, “I can’t stand the smells, mold and other sickness smells, and so I have to sleep outdoors. I feel healthier in the fresh air!”
Perhaps we would make the same choice given her options. But speaking with her and hearing her story leads me to believe strongly in the Project we want to launch of “1000 Miami Stories.” In other words, what if we could learn the individual life stories of those who are homeless and remain unsheltered on our streets, mostly in downtown? Can we de- dehumanize these individuals? Might we think of new ways we can help? I believe there are more answers to this problem and one way to find out is to learn their sometimes-amazing life stories.
A Pilot Program
Mayor Francis Suarez has wanted since last year for this Pilot program to launch. He told me that he and his wife went into the neighborhood after learning about the Samaritan app so he could speak to some persons experiencing homelessness. This is what he had to say:
“I was blown away when I spoke to them and realized how many obstacles they face daily to restart from their situation. But they can truly be helped — just by sharing their story online!”
Founder of Avenue 3 Miami.