Human Waste from Homeless People Seeps into Miami Streets

Belede Martinez, who is homeless, sleeps November 20, 2001 on a sidewalk in Miami, Florida. Nearly one third of the city's population - 32 percent of residents - lives in poverty, a greater percentage than in any other city of 250,000 or more, the US Census survey indicates. (Photo by …
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Homeless people are defecating on the sidewalks and streets of downtown Miami, turning the city into an outdoor wasteland, residents and business owners say.

“The situation is the worst I’ve seen in my 25 years here,” business owner Jose Goyanes told the Miami Herald. “The stench is really bad, even after you hose it down. We see people urinating against buildings or pulling their pants down and squatting because they have nowhere else to go.”

People said they have seen human waste deposits in gutters, planters, doorways, and even in plain sight in the middle of the street— and they say it is bad for business.

“It’s prolific. It’s on every block and at the base of most trees,” said businessman Gary Ressler. “I can’t bring national tenants here and walk through downtown without having them observe human feces littering the sidewalk.”

The reason for the increase in defecation on the streets mostly stems from a homelessness crisis throughout the U.S. that is hard to solve, but a critical shortage in public bathrooms available to those who live on the streets or cannot find room at a shelter makes it difficult for these people to maintain personal hygiene.

“Most of us do not want to defecate or urinate in public,” said David Beaty, a homeless man who came to Miami from Wisconsin. “It’s like you’re losing your dignity, your humanity. We’re not animals. I personally use a cup and dump it because I don’t want to smell my urine or anybody else’s while I’m sleeping.

According to a survey from the Miami Dade County Homeless Trust, the homeless population in Miami’s central business district soared 16 percent since January.

Four years ago, Miami’s poop problem became so bad that the city’s Downtown Development Authority created a poop map with smiling emojis locating each spot where feces was found over the course of an eight-hour workday.

The map, meant to shame public officials and to make them pay attention to the issue, was similar to a project San Francisco did in 2013.

A 2018 report found that San Francisco was on track to become one of the dirtiest cities in the world due to the amount of feces and hypodermic needles littered on the ground.


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