The ACLU, ACLU of Florida and Legal Services of Greater Miami filed a motion in lawsuit challenging Miami-Dade County’s onerous residence restrictions and its practice of forcing individuals into homelessness

MIAMI, FL – Attorneys from the ACLU, ACLU of Florida and Legal Services of Greater Miami filed a response opposing summary judgment in a lawsuit challenging Miami-Dade County’s ordinance that prohibits former offenders from living 2,500 feet from a school. The lawsuit was filed in October 2014 on behalf of individuals whose offenses occurred before the County enacted the residence restriction and who have been forced into homelessness. 

The response filed today includes undisputed evidence that the residence restriction does nothing to protect the public and instead punishes individuals by making it virtually impossible to locate housing.  Because stable housing is the most important factor for successfully re-entering society, the residence restriction actually undermines public safety.

“Everyday realities and social science make it clear—residency restrictions are ineffective and unduly harsh,“ stated ACLU of Florida legal director Nancy Abudu. “Rather than advancing public safety, Miami-Dade County’s policy is just our elected officials’ latest attempt at legislating people into endless cycles of homelessness and poverty.”

The County has prohibited these individuals from living within 2,500 feet of a school, which in practice prohibits them from living in 99.9% of available and affordable residential units in the County. In order to work and live, these individuals resort to living in tents or in their vehicles on street corners in the few areas of the County not excluded by the residence restriction. In May 2018, Miami-Dade County closed the largest encampment along NW 71st Street, but the individuals who lived there remain homeless and have relocated to other street corners without running water, electricity, or a restroom.

“This lifelong housing ban is unconscionable. It has essentially exiled these individuals, many of whom are elderly or have severe mental and physical health needs,” said Brandon Buskey of the ACLU’s National Office. “These encampments did not begin until after Miami-Dade implemented a residence restriction, and the problem has only worsened over time. The County created this problem, and the County can solve it now by repealing the law.”

A copy of the response filed today is available here: https://www.aclufl.org/sites/default/files/response_msj_final.pdf

A video documenting the lives of individuals directly affected by the residence restriction in Miami-Dade County is available here: https://youtu.be/uCdbJKImdcU

A map showing the impact of the residence restriction in Miami-Dade County is available here: https://www.aclufl.org/en/file/2643

More information on that case is available here: https://www.aclufl.org/sites/default/files/90-second_amended_complaint.pdf

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