The Student News Site of MAST Academy

The Beacon

The Student Newspaper of MAST Academy, since 1991.
The Student News Site of MAST Academy

The Beacon

The Beacon

Senior Issue 2024
June 5, 2024

Public safety concern or prejudice? Homeless encampment plan near MAST Academy put on hold.

A plan to shelter homeless people in Virginia Key was proposed in late July. Immediately concern and anger erupted from the citizens of Key Biscayne and regular visitors of this beach. 

Areas of concern include but are not limited to emergency evacuation, public safety considerations, historical importance, and environmental considerations.

But the question of whether or not this anger comes from a general concern for safety or prejudice arises. 

The homeless community faces several unfair disadvantages, one of which is prejudice; misconceptions are constantly thrown around. 

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It is harmful to use these umbrella terms to describe a group of individuals, especially when it could very well not be true; regardless, their use has become institutionalized in society. 

As a result, regions that are abundant in homeless are considered unsafe neighborhoods. Because of this, many are worried about the proposed homeless encampment, which would be on a historical beach less than two miles from a school that harbors more than 1400 underaged individuals.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), 38% of homeless people abuse alcohol, while 26% abuse other drugs. It is also important to mention that according to SAMHSA, 20 to 25% of the United States homeless population suffers from severe mental illness. A number of people are concerned about homeless individuals walking onto campus grounds and disturbing students and staff. 

The people pushing for this project are Miami Mayor Francis Suarez and City Commissioner Joe Carollo. The Beacon reached out to Commissioner Carollo and his team for comment; however, none was provided. 


Key Biscayne mayor Mike Davey was dismissive of the proposal, saying in a video posted to the Village of Key Biscayne’s Instagram account, “I don’t think anybody really believes this is going to move forward. . . . My opinion is this is political theater.”

Virginia Key, a City of Miami park that is open to the public, is one of the top “Things to Do” in Miami, according to TripAdvisor. It is possible that a homeless encampment in this area would lower tourist attraction and revenue generated for the city from the park, as well as harm Key Biscayne and other surrounding areas.

As of August 9th, the homeless encampment proposal has been put on hold for at least six months, according to NBC Miami. There are still many questions regarding the encampment. Is there a chance of the project advancing any further during this term? Why put a homeless shelter in Virginia Key when it’s so hard to access? Has Commissioner Carollo considered that this could possibly be a safety hazard for the 1400 students that attend MAST Academy and for the visitors of Virginia Key? Will there be some sort of mental health screening or background check on the individuals that will be placed in the homeless encampment?

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City of Miami Government Presentation

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Public safety concern or prejudice? Homeless encampment plan near MAST Academy put on hold.