Photograph courtesy of OnceFallen….
Derek Logue – OnceFallen – has followed the situation of homeless registrants in Florida ever since abhorrently stringent residency restrictions created the Julia Tuttle Causeway scandal in 2007. After being ousted from there, the homeless population bounced to other communities, forced to move time and time again, from Shorecrest, to Allapattah, and as of 2016, to an industrial park parking lot in Miami.
In spite of relatively few tents staying permanently erected – some go up just at night and some registrants sleep in cars – the location is known as “Tent City.” Derek put up his own $25 tent and observed and conversed as curfew was approaching and the lot was filling up. Among Derek’s observations of some of the residents: “… an elderly man in a wheelchair, a man weighing in at nearly 400 pounds with severe arthritis, another man who had recent knee surgery, and even some women. Mr. T (Derek’s host and guide) told me many at the camp do try to look out for each other. One of the older guys at the camp helped the man in the wheelchair perform tasks and gather donations that came to the camp.”
Generators and power cords are connected and utilized where possible in order to keep GPS tracking devices charged. The greatest challenges are cleanliness, hygiene, and bathroom necessities. The residents of Tent City, being registered as “living” at this location, are not allowed to leave between 10 pm and 6 am, so even though some nearby stores are accommodating in the use of their bathrooms, these options are off limits during those hours.
Derek had determined some months ago to do something to make Christmas for these registered citizens better. He reports, “Over the course of two months, I raised roughly $900 to bring much-needed supplies to the camp. The funds were used to purchase enough underwear, socks and laundry pods to make 200 care packages containing two pairs of socks, two pairs of underwear, and two laundry pods. We also brought hygiene products, used clothing, and some camping supplies to the camp, and there was even money left over to make a few on-demand purchases.”
Most of the actual purchases were made there in Florida by representatives of Women Against Registry of Florida. A member and Florida registrant traveled with his wife and the purchased items from Tampa to Miami where they met up with Derek, organized the supplies, and put the packets together.
Derek reports that he could not have completed this mission without the help of WARofFlorida, and WARofFlorida has this to say: “[We] give thanks and appreciation to Derek for starting this drive and to those that donated to bring a bit of holiday spirit to these homeless Miami registrants…. No one should be forced to live their lives in ‘third world country’ conditions such as those. These registrants need help…laws need to change.”
While there is hope that these onerous residency restrictions will be stricken, supplies and help for those living in Tent City will continue. Contact Derek at his Once Fallen website if you would like to help.
NARSOL is grateful to all who helped in any way to bring a degree of Christmas cheer and hope to registered citizens who, due to heartless and useless laws, are living in our nation under these conditions.