In the midst of South Florida becoming the epicenter of the COVID 19 global pandemic, 72 homeless residents staying at the Roadside Inn on Marina Mile are at risk once again of being evicted by Monday, July 20th. After the City sent them an eviction notice last weekend and the retracted on the same day, the hotel has informed community organizers they are only paid until Monday. Meanwhile, the City is sending buses today to move the residents to shelters, breaking its promise to find a permanent solution despite ample funding available to the city for exactly these matters during the pandemic.
In early May many homeless residents were moved to the Roadside Inn with the promise from the City of Fort lauderdale that this would be a pathway to permanent housing. Since then, the city has kept people in the dark as to what they would do to help secure permanent housing for them.
Last week’s eviction order was delayed thanks to a protest by the residents in collaboration with community organizers. But unfortunately, the residents have not been clearly informed of how much longer they have to stay. Some have been told they have until Monday 7/20, others have been told they have until Sunday 7/19, and others haven’t been told anything at all. Earlier this week many were tested and told that if they tested negative they would be moved to a shelter, and if they tested positive they would have to vacate the Roadside Inn and be moved to an undisclosed location. Many of the residents of the Roadside Inn have experience staying in shelters and some have expressed that they refuse to go back because it could mean exposing themselves to COVID 19 spread, lack of cleanliness, physical violence, and sexual violence, all of which they stated they have experienced in these same shelters the city is suggesting they move to.
The Mayor of Fort Lauderdale, Dean Trantalis, has expressed concerns over sending people to shelter, stating: “In the middle of the coronavirus conditions that we are now presented with, we do not want to encourage homeless people to go to shelters where they will be in close proximity to one another.” Later in that same article, he was quoted saying, “Let’s focus on what we need to do right now: Get them the food and housing they need…We can look at this down the road.”
“What the City is doing, forcing people to choose between inadequate shelters or the streets, is a direct act of violence against the 72 residents who were moved to the Roadside Inn under the false promise of long term housing. Both options subject them to COVID 19 exposure and the potential for physical violence,” says Jesse Cosme. “It is also important to note that, not only does this expose these residents of Fort Lauderdale to COVID 19, but it increases the likelihood of COVID 19 to spread throughout the city, county, and state when COVID 19 is at its peak here. At this moment it reveals to us even more clearly the public good and public benefit gained by providing housing for all. Yet this is something the City of Fort Lauderdale continues to ignore.”
Many of the residents expressed that they are willing to work together to build towards a secure and stable housing reality for themselves and wanting to be in solidarity with the potential 600,000 residents in the state of Florida who may be under the threat of eviction when the moratorium is lifted in August. Now more than ever we have to come together and support each other. Follow the Facebook page and Instagram Page for more information on how you can support our continued efforts to ensure housing for the 72 Fort Lauderdale Residents at the Roadway Inn.
Contacts available for interview:
- Shana Cartwright, Roadside Inn Tenant, 954-497-0545
- Frank, Roadside Inn Tenant, 786-753-1339
- Bertisha Combs, New Florida Majority, 754-246-9430
- Jasmine Gamble, The South Florida Healing Justice Project, 954-604-3885