[Note, at the time I wrote the letter, the ordinance had a different number.]
From: Derek W. Logue of OnceFallen.com
To: Members of the Miami-Dade Council
Subject: Ordinance 172445
To the Miami City Council,
My name is Derek Logue, and I represent OnceFallen, an activist and support site for Registered Citizens. I have been trying to assist those who are forced to live at the Hialeah homeless registrant camp. In Christmas 2016, I spend Christmas at the camp. I have also documented the effects of the Lauren Book law on my website.(1) I have also endured homelessness and the difficulty of finding housing as a registered citizen.
I’d like to share that personal experience as a registrant. I have lived in a couple of states since my release. My conviction took place in Alabama, and they have a 2000 feet restriction. I could not find any housing in the state because those newly released from prison have no resources to find housing. I ultimately found a program in Ohio willing to take me. Now, in Ohio, we had a 1000 foot residency restriction in place. Still, it took me seven months and 131 individual phone calls to find a place to live. In 2011, residency restriction laws were deemed to be punitive and could not be applied retroactively. I had to move a few years after this decision came out, and it only took me 4 weeks and 31 calls to find a place to live.
The point of all this is to address the dubious claim this Lauren Book 2500 foot restriction ordinance has no impact on housing availability. I think the difficulty of all these county agencies, especially the Homeless Trust, cannot find sufficient housing with their vast amount of resources condemns this denial of the Book ordinance as the root of the problem as absurd. It was found in 2012 that 22.7% of the total number of homeless registrants in the state of Florida live right here in Miami-Dade County.(2) The only other county coming close to this number is Broward County, which, not-so-coincidentally, also has 2500 foot living restrictions.
The people who have been missing from this narrative are the camp residents. I have heard a number of absurd statements, such as the one where someone suggesting homeless registrants roll up in a Mercedes demanding benefits. It is entirely possible that statement could be true but it is because some of those living at the camp in Hialeah aren’t there because they cannot afford a place; many the camp are there because they are trying to obey a draconian law and it is the only known option to them. If a nationally recognized activist for the rights of registered persons struggled for months just to find a single residence in a location of 1000 foot residency restriction laws that apply to only schools and day care centers, then what hope is there for those who have to navigate a nearly half-mile restriction from even more places?
If you were placed in a situation where 99.9% of available housing, you have two choices: One, you obey the law and establish residence in the 0.1% of remaining real estate, or two, you take your chances and break the law in order to live like the rest of the human beings. It is quite amazing that so many choose option 1, but it really isn’t, since many want to obey the law, no matter how barbaric it may be. This Ron Book ordinance (and be honest, it was Ron, not Lauren, who spearheaded this law and thus should be named for him) is the root cause of this dilemma.
The Book family claims they have tried to help the camp residents. That is a complete fabrication. It was well documented by the media those who did receive assistance after the city shut down the JTC received far less assistance than Ron Book has claimed. Ron Book received $1 million to provide temporary housing to the displaced registrants, but less than three months later, the displaced registrants were facing eviction from their temporary housing. About 20 faced eviction within a single month of displacement. Despite efforts to prevent clustering, two clusters of displaced registrants formed, one at a trailer park in Allapattah, the other in a secluded area in the Shorecrest community. Some were displaced from temporary shelter within mere hours.(3) A number of former JTC camp registrants were even temporarily housed in the parking lot of the Florida Department of Corrections.(4) As far as the claim JTC residents aren’t at this current camp, I know that to be false.
Why is this council continuing to rely on these same failed agencies with the same tasks and continue to accept their same debunked claims as Gospel? The popular definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result each time. This council gave the task to cleaning up the mess created by the Ron Book ordinance to Ron Book and his daughter once before. This poses a very important question—if the Book family, with their millions of dollars and the backing of the Miami-Dade council and a decade of time to resolve this issue could not find housing for the homeless camp residents, what hope do those at the camp have of resolving the issue themselves?
The Book family had not been to the Hialeah camp in years. Many residents never even heard of Ron and Lauren Book. But they know that they could not trust the Homeless Trust. I visited the camp twice in 2016—once to see the camp for myself and talk to residents, and once during Christmas to bring some supplies to the neediest residents at the camp. That is two more times than the Book family or the Miami-Dade Homeless Trust visited the camp in 2016. Many residents never met the Book family until the Books engaged in a public spectacle only after the local media brought this issue to the surface again. The Books are taking action to prevent critics from speaking out, including filing bogus litigation to silence critics.
The Books had no desire then, and have no desire today to help those at the camp have stable homes. They have repeated referred to everyone on the public registry as “creeping crud,” “monsters,” “incurable,” and “ticking time bombs.” It should be no surprise that camp residents would not trust the Books or the Homeless Trust. Who would trust anyone to help when the people charged to help them call them vile names and spew so much venom against them? Would a member of the NAACP come to the Aryan Brotherhood for advice on race relations? Would a Christian ask a Satanist for advice on Scripture? Why would a camp resident ask the very people responsible for keeping them in a state of homelessness to help them out of homelessness? I wouldn’t. Quite frankly, if I had been unfortunate enough to live at that camp, I would have honestly considered absconding.
Passing a law to allow police to arrest camp residents for being forced to live at a homeless camp by virtue of law is simply sweeping the problem your council under the rug. Maybe this will be the action that finally sends these residency restriction laws crashing down to reality. You’ve paraded this naked Emperor around for over a decade now, and people are getting tired of pretending this Emperor you have is wearing a luxurious robe. We can see every imperfection, every fold, and every wrinkle in your Emperor. The so-called Lauren Book Child Safety Ordinance is the festering, cancerous pustule protruding prominently on the face of this city and it needs to be surgically removed. All the L’Oreal makeup in existence could not cover this tumor.
Repealing the Book law isn’t that hard. Iowa scaled back 2000 foot residency restrictions in 2009.(5) Wilwaukee WI scaled their restrictions back just last year, three years after passing 2000 foot restrictions.(6) Like Miami, they thought they could just banish their way out of a homeless, but the media studied the homeless registrant issue and found the following:
“Rather than reducing the number of sex offenders, the ordinance has put more than 200 of them in the street and failed to keep new offenders from moving into the city, a Journal Sentinel analysis has found... The ordinance bans many sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of areas where children are commonly found, such as schools, parks and day care centers. In Milwaukee, that means hundreds of sex offenders are limited to 117 possible housing units. And even those 117 units might not be available to rent or buy.”(7) Does it sound familiar? It should. This is the same thing the media has stated numerous times about Miami!
How much more evidence do you need to see we need a repeal of the Book law rather than a law to arrest people fore obeying a draconian and completely unnecessary law? The Book family has been allowed to use the law as a tool of vengeance for far too long, and it is beyond time this council grows some gumption and rejects this completely asinine proposal. Repeal the Lauren Book “Child Safety” Ordinance instead!