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It's Done: Changes To Pottinger Settlement Approved

Wilson Sayre

Protecting the rights of Miami's Homeless since 1998, Federal Judge Federico Moreno has approved changes to the Pottinger settlement. The revisions were reached through mediation between the city of Miami and the ACLU.

Moreno commented before giving his final ruling that this was a different type of class-action suit because it was not about money. Instead, the question at stake is "how do we help people also also help the community grow," he said.

Pottinger allows the homeless to commit certain misdemeanors called "life-sustaining acts" like urinating in public parks without punishment.

Changes include some basic updates to language as well as larger changes like excluding homeless sex offenders from being protected under the Pottinger settlement.

An issue brought up throughout the process and echoed in the hearing were concerns about allowing mats, "at least three-inch thick" to count as an available shelter bed. If a homeless person carrying out one of these "life-sustaining acts" on the street refuses an available bed, and now mat, he or she could be arrested.

Dr. Paul Ahr, president of Camillus House -- one of the largest homeless shelters in Miami -- responds to the idea that this limits a homeless person's choice, saying, "I don't feel any different today as yesterday." In practice, he thinks adding mats in the new Pottinger will be irrelevant in day-to-day operations.

Read the full changes to the Pottinger settlement.

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