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Miami leaders to vote on homeless law, Dixie Manor residents fear displacement, and The Vampire Circus

Angela McDonald sits in front of a neighbor's apartment at Dixie Manor in Boca Raton on Friday, Sept. 10, 2021. McDonald has lived in the historically Black community for three years.
Carline Jean
South Florida Sun Sentinel
Angela McDonald sits in front of a neighbor's apartment at Dixie Manor in Boca Raton on Friday, Sept. 10, 2021. McDonald has lived in the historically Black community for three years.

On this Wednesday, October 13, edition of Sundial:

Miami could criminalize people experiencing homelessness

Sleeping on public property could soon become a crime in the city of Miami. Commissioners will vote Thursday on an ordinance that would allow the arrest of people who are living on the street. Sundial has reached out to Commissioner Joe Carollo, who is pushing the ordinance, he did not respond before the show or before this post was published.

Some critics say criminalizing homelessness is not the solution, especially during a pandemic.

David Peery, executive director of the Miami Coalition to Advance Racial Equity, said he understands the needs and struggles of those who are experiencing homelessness because he used to sleep on the streets of Miami. Peery believes the biggest misconception of homelessness is that people choose to not find shelter.

“I can tell you that homelessness is intensely traumatizing. You’re vulnerable to theft, you’re vulnerable to violence, you have no integrity over your possessions.” said Peery. “I can assure you that absolutely no one makes the free choice to sleep on the streets.”

Sabrina Hennecke is the director of advocacy for Miami Street Medicine — a free, mobile healthcare clinic that’s part of the Dade County Street Response. Hennecke and fellow medical students help to serve the medical needs of the city’s unhoused population.

She mentioned police officers who remove people and their possessions off the streets unknowingly take away some of their vital possessions. Hennecke witnessed a woman who was having a seizure because the police took her epilepsy medication. Another woman lost her mother’s ashes.

“Police, city workers, they come in with garbage trucks and they take everything from an encampment area with little warning,” said Hennecke. “It’s really disheartening to see people trying really hard to build their life back and of course they have so little possession ... that possession alone could have them arrested.”

Hennecke wrote an opinion piece for the Miami Herald about the ordinance. Commissioners will vote on the anti-camping ordinance Thursday.

10-13-2021 SUNDIAL SEG A Miami Homeless Ordinance.mp3

Dixie Manor residents could face displacement

Dixie Manor is a small community of mostly public housing apartments. It’s also a historically Black neighborhood in Boca Raton. During World War II, the army housed the barracks for Black soldiers there.

Now the longtime residents are concerned that the city’s housing authority wants to replace the old apartments with newer units of affordable housing. The tenants fear they won’t be able to afford to live in the new version of their neighborhood.

Gary Richardson is the chairman of the Boca Raton Housing Authority. He said that the city signed a master developer agreement and now the city needs to evaluate the property and continue speaking with the residents. Richardson said the housing authority has reached out to all the tenants and he has met with about 20% of the 95 units so far.

Angela McDonald is also part of the housing authority’s board. She’s been a resident of Dixie Manor for three years. McDonald didn’t agree with what Richardson said in regards to the city’s communication with the tenants. She went door-to-door to give them phone numbers, email addresses, and information pertaining to the situation.

“We’re holding meetings at least every month trying to educate people on the terms of what’s going on,” said McDonald. “Whatever I find out in the board meetings, I come back and I share it with [the residents].”

She said there have been at least 30 or 40 tenants and outsiders attending the board meetings since they started spreading the word.

“I’m not from Florida, but I’ve been walked over and thrown around so much,” said McDonald. “I’m tired of being balled up like I’m a piece of trash and say, ‘Here, you take this,’ and that’s it.”

10-13-2021 SUNDIAL SEG B Dixie Manor.mp3

The Vampire Circus is back in Miami

In 2020, Halloween festivities and events looked quite different thanks to the coronavirus pandemic. Now that the vaccine is available for adults and children ages 12 and older, Halloween favorites are returning to South Florida — including the Cirque du Soleil-esque production, The Vampire Circus.

The family-friendly show features acrobatic vampires dressed in detailed, ghoulish attire along with intricate set designs. The production’s creator and director, Francisco Santos, said the audience will feel like they entered a world of vampires. As a Cirque du Soleil veteran, Santos found a common thread between vampires and acrobats.

“When you go to a Cirque du Soleil show or another circus, all the stunts and everything the performers do with their bodies...I relate them to vampires because vampires can do superhuman abilities,” Santos said.

The Vampire Circus
The Vampire Circus
The Vampire Circus features many Cirque du Soleil acrobats, gymnasts, and LOTS of vampires. You can watch the live show at Aventura Mall during the whole month of October.

He mentioned that the production is suited for all ages and audiences will enjoy lots of laughs even though it’s supposed to be a scary sight.

You can watch the live theatrical show at Aventura Mall from now through Halloween. Tickets are sold online here. For an even spookier experience, you can go to the terrifying Horrorland drive-thru haunted house, which is also at Aventura Mall.

10-13-2021 SUNDIAL SEG C Vampire Circus.mp3

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Amber Amortegui is a senior studying journalism at Palm Beach Atlantic University. Born and raised in Davie, Fla., Amber is a native South Floridian who embraces one of America’s most diverse regions.