Miami Officials Suggest Bond Money For Homeless Shelter
By Susan Stabley
Miami city officials are warming to construction of a new Camillus House near Allapattah, especially if funding for the homeless shelter could be secured through a Miami-Dade County general obligation bond issue planned for the November ballot.
City Commission Chairman Arthur Teele Jr. proposed last week that Camillus House request $20 million from the anticipated $2.8 billion bond issue, adding that the allocation be part of a $285 million plan for the area’s science, art and historical museums to move to new buildings in Miami’s Bicentennial Park.
"The museums have no chance of getting bond approval," Mr. Teele said, suggesting that packaging the homeless shelter with the museums in the bond proposal would help the museums muster voter approval.
"That’s as good an idea as you have ever had," City Manager Joe Arriola said to Mr. Teele, adding that he would help drum up support for the idea, discussed in a meeting room at City Hall among commissioners Teele, Angel Gonzalez and Tomas Regalado, Police Chief John Timoney, city administrators and Camillus House officials.
Miami officials have said their approval of a new homeless shelter would hinge on creation of a police training center nearby. Camillus House has offered land from its site for a police center.
City commissioners also want Camillus House to create an advisory board, give the city a seat on its board of directors, enforce of a 10 p.m. curfew, give bed priority to Miami homeless and limit feeding programs to Camillus House clients.
The commission is set to accept two chunks of surplus land from the Florida Department of Transportation – one of which could be the site of a police center. The Miami Police Department has $10 million of a $255 million Homeland Defense-Neighborhood Improvement Bond issued in 2002 to construct a center that could train law officers from Latin American and Caribbean agencies as well as local officers.
The properties surround the Camillus site. All three parcels are on a strip that runs west of Interstate 95 from Northwest 20th Street to where an interstate off-ramp bends into State Road 836 near the Civic Center.
If the city approves plans for a new shelter, Camillus House could move out of its 43-year-old home at Northeast Eighth Street and First Avenue, near the Miami Arena. A new building would be about 200,000 square feet on 5 acres with 420 beds.
Camillus House officials suggested at last week’s meeting that they could upgrade their existing 29,000-square-foot downtown center, but officials said the land is not large enough and reconstruction would require a site to house occupants temporarily.
Early this year, city commissioners passed an ordinance that requires four votes from the five-member commission to approve any action for rescue missions.