WLRN/ Miami/South Florida ran an excellant article entitled “Sex Offenders Sent to Homeless Encampment told to Find Housing, But Where?”
The encampment at Northwest 36th Court and 71st Street is at the edge of Hialeah and Miami. It’s the warehouse district. There aren’t any houses for several blocks. What there is, is a tent city with no running water and no toilet facilities, inhabited by anywhere between 50 and 260 homeless people, including some who are registrants. It’s the Julia Tuttle Bridge story all over again, that “under the causeway” encampment of the homeless that was dismantled in 2010.
Encampments, tent cities, sex offender villages, they’re nothing new. As more and more laws get passed, restrictions get tighter and the homeless, including registrants, get shoved to the outskirts of cities, “for the safety of others”. We are essentially bringing back leper colonies.
Enter Ron Book and his daughter Lauren Book.
I don’t know much about these folks accept for what I’ve read. And I haven’t been very impressed with that.
According to this most recent article Ron Book is “a powerful and influential lobbyist in Florida”. Yeah, yeah, the Great Oz was all powerful too, so what?
I’m more interested in his other job, chair of Miami-Dade Homeless Trust, which was behind the 2005 law that made it increasingly difficult for registrants to find places to live in Miami-Dade. The Lauren Book Child Safety Ordinance created and pushed through by Ron Book, created the 2,500 ft residency restriction that has forced alot of people into homelessness.
From what I’ve read, Ron Book’s daughter Lauren was sexually abused by the Book’s nanny when she was young. Both father and daughter have gone on to become advocates for those who have been sexually abused. That’s all well and good, no one should be sexually abused and advocating for victims seems like a good thing.
It seems a bit odd that the very people who would seem to be at least “partially responsible” for some of these homeless being homeless, were out at the encampment along with homeless outreach workers and police, handing out copies of a letter that Ron Book had written to the Miami-Dade Deputy Mayor regarding “finding a new place for the homeless in the area”, while at the same time also handing out maps of the “off-limits” areas.
Also surprising is that the Homeless Trust has offered to subsidize part of the expenses thru rental and housing assistance, to relocate the homeless.
According to Ron Book, his goal was to “inform” the homeless that their “homelessness in the encampment” was not going to continue and that sooner or later, the tent village was going to be dismantled. He also wanted to make it clear in his letter, that it was every individual’s responsibility to find housing opportunities, that they had to take control of their lives and their housing.
Now since Social Workers and Parole Officers were referring registrants to the tent city because they themselves had no luck in helping their clients find housing, how does Mr. Book think that registrants are going to find housing? He of course wasn’t handing out any list of available housing, because as we all know, if there was available housing, the homeless wouldn’t be homeless now would they, they’d be living somewhere!
Mr. Book stated that “he doesn’t feel he should be held responsible for the difficulties of the homeless”. He said “they can blame me all they want. I’ve never shied away from my work to make our community and our state and our country safer so that what happened to my daughter doesn’t happen to them.” Not surprisingly, in the article, Mr. Book goes on to say “All the homeless want to do is wallow in self-pity and blame everyone for their problem, blame the laws, blame this and that. They want to sit around and blame other people. They can choose to do that or take responsibility for what happened, for the crimes they committed, understanding society and go out and take control”.
Well, I personally think you are kind of responsible Mr. Book. If it wasn’t for the 2,500 ft. ordinance, some of these homeless might be able to live with family or friends. They might be able to find an apartment or house. They might have been able to find jobs.
So, in that regard, yeah, I sort of think you do own some of the responsibility, it was your ordinance that created the restriction that made it more difficult for people to find housing and jobs. And unless you’ve got some brand spanking new statistics that the rest of us don’t know about, their “homelessness” has not made your community, your state or your country any safer so stop trying to take credit for that, you sound like a well known person in Washington.
When people who have committed crimes are released from jail or prison, they’ve served their sentence, they’ve accepted responsibility, our laws have released them back into society and they just want to get on with their lives.
I think it’s insulting of Ron Book to assume that the homeless are wallowing in self-pity, blaming everyone for their situation and not trying to get their lives back on track. Wouldn’t they have a better chance of becoming a functioning member of society if they could find a job and a place to live without the ridiculous 2,500 ft ordinance? Haven’t statistics shown that most sexual abuse takes place within the homes of family or friends of the victims? 2,500 ft. restrictions don’t make any kind of difference. It’s just a stupid, arbitrary number.
And where does Lauren Book fit into all this?
Well, according to the article she stated “this isn’t easy for me or my Dad. I don’t feel badly for these individuals, there were laws that were broken. You did some terrible things. That doesn’t mean that anybody should be in a desperate situation”. (I assume she means homelessness)
Sounds alot like she’s projecting her feelings from her own past abuse onto “all homeless registrants” whose offenses may bear no resemblance to her past situation.
She does say that while she and her father don’t agree on everything, they do agree on the residency restrictions.
So the article leaves me baffled.
This seems like a lot of passive-aggressive behavior to me. Ron Book pushes through an ordinance that causes a lot of people to become homeless, then turns around and the Homeless Trust, that he chairs, wants to subsidize part of the expenses to relocate those same homeless, but has no idea himself where they can relocate to. He claims that he wants to “help” but when it comes to finding actual housing all he can offer is “it’s up to them to locate housing”. He hands out a letter regarding relocation and a map regarding “dislocation”. It’s all very odd.
Has Mr. Book found religion, seen the error of his ways and is making a half-hearted attempt to set things right or does he just want his name in another news article?
I don’t know the man, but unfortunately, after reading the article, I kind of have to go with the latter.