Homeless advocates are praising Miami for the installation of the first public restroom in the downtown area — complete with a needle exchange.
'A beacon of hope'
The $300,000 project was spearheaded by the Downtown Development Authority, a "semi-autonomous tax-funded agency."
"On the one hand, [the restrooms are] a beacon of hope for those in need," said Miami mayor Francis Suarez at the ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday.
"On the other," he added, "it helps maintain a clean and welcoming Downtown for residents and visitors."
The restroom will be open 12 hours a day, and will have attendants during those hours hired from a Miami homeless shelter.
The city is gearing up to end an agreement to protect the homeless from law enforcement, and the restroom is one way to manage the homeless population as they pursue the new policy.
The agreement came as a result from a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union that accused police of acting unconstitutionally when arresting homeless people for "life-sustaining" activities like urinating in public or sleeping on a sidewalk.
Miami officials will ask a federal judge to end the agreement next week.