Published: May 11, 2020

Calls to test and house Miami’s homeless grow louder during coronavirus pandemic

Pedro Machado’s cheeks rose from behind a blue surgical mask as he described how grateful he was to have a chance to wash up and change.

“We’re street people, so we tend to get a little dirtier each day,” he said Friday afternoon, sitting in the middle of a service center run by volunteers outside an Overtown church. The site has portable toilets, showers, clothing, meals and COVID-19 tests for those who want them.

“I feel so much better that I can put on some nice clean clothes, some clean underwear,” Machado said.

The parking lot of the St. John Institutional Missionary Baptist Church has become the new stop for many people who are experiencing homelessness, particularly those who fear they may be infected with the novel coronavirus. The coalition of community groups and faith leaders that opened the site have called on government agencies to act faster to test and shelter people living on Miami’s streets.

Recently approved federal grants will help Miami’s city government get some people off the street and into hotel rooms. The city has received $1.6 million in grants from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to assist the homeless during the COVID-19 pandemic, including $347,000 to provide temporary housing in hotels and motels. The federal dollars were part of Congress’ $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act.

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Source: Miami Herald

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