Spurred by an alleged sighting of a man bathing naked outside St. Agnes Catholic Church and a report of a longtime resident living on the streets, the Key Biscayne Village Council will discuss homelessness next month.
Mayor Michael W. Davey wants to create a task force to help vulnerable people on the island find shelter, as well as alcohol and drug treatment. “It’s a concern for people,” said Davey, who first floated the idea Oct. 29. “It’s just important that we start trying to address this now and see if we can work with these people before, you know, God forbid, there is a problem and we do have an issue.”
He said the man bathing outside St. Agnes was a particularly “bad situation” because the church houses an elementary school. And, despite the mayor pointing out that the island does have public bathrooms, homeless people have allegedly been relieving themselves on private and commercial properties, much to the dismay of some residents.
Davey said he originally planned to discuss the task force during the Nov. 19 meeting, but said he is still working on who would be on it.
“We want to take care of people, we want to be mindful and we want to treat them like human beings,” he said. “On the other hand, I don’t want a situation where we have dangerous people who are now homeless, who are in this community, and we are not able to deal with them.”
Councilman Ed London expressed concerns about the task force’s potential success, but said he is willing to help. “It’s just not a simple thing,” he said. “You just can’t take them off the street … if it’s public property.”
But resident Tim Stickney said there is an issue with loitering. “You can’t just hang out all day and all night, you can’t do that,” he said. “And you certainly can’t take a bath in front of kids on public property.”
In addition, Davey said a “well-known” resident recently became homeless. He said police department officials, including Chief Charles Press, worked to get the man – who he declined to name – into a treatment program. But he only stayed two days before returning to the island and is currently living on the streets.
The median home value on Key Biscayne is just over $1 million, making it one of the county’s wealthiest municipalities.
“We have some really good people on this island who have dedicated their time to the homeless in Miami,” Davey said. “We need to figure out how to deal with people living on our streets, [even if] that is through outreach programs via churches to get them into housing.”