In our If I Were Mayor interview with Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado, we asked him a few questions about the state of homelessness in the area.
He said, “Unfortunately the media focuses on the 800 homeless that we have still in Miami-Dade County and the 500 we have in downtown Miami. But seven years ago we had 8,000 homeless. Most of these people, they are living in transitional housing. So the big story, which I think is being missed, is that many homeless people are no longer homeless.”
Unfortunately, he is mixing apples and oranges with these numbers. Back in June of 2001, the total number of homeless both in shelters and out on the street was 8,258, the highest number to date.
The 800 number Regalado cites is based on the 848 street-living homeless counted in August of 2013. It does not include the sheltered homeless, which would bring that total to 3,951.
Even the percentage of street homeless compared to the overall homeless total is not drastically different: 21 percent in 2013 compared to 32 percent in 2001. There are less people on the streets than a decade ago, which is a good thing, but not nearly the drop from 8,000 to 800 as Regalado suggested.
The Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust counts the number of homeless twice a year and the homeless count conducted earlier this year found an uptick in the number of homeless people, though primarily in the shelter population, bringing the most recent total to 3,316.