The Miami Beach MirrorImages of Homelessness, Adolescence, Drug Addiction and PoliceIn Miami Beach  

The ever sunny and festive Miami Beach, a radiant city located in South Florida, USA, has an estimated population of 90 thousand people.  One of the popular areas of this city is South Beach, also known as SoBe, or the Beach. It has become one of the most well-known cities for its beautiful natural beaches, environment, unique restaurants and exquisite night life.

Be strip is known around the world as the paradise getaway. Today, it is considered one of the richest commercial areas on the beach.  In Miami Beach, the vision that is approached from a tourist and resident’s point of view is positive.  Tourists from afar flock to Miami Beach bearing the belief that the city’s beaches, clubs and streets reflect their dreams of paradise.

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However, the reality of the seemingly glorious paradise is completely turned around when the cameras zoom in to reveal its veiled truths. The streets and coasts serve as the home for local people who struggle with their daily lives in order to survive. Homeless people have even taken over some spots in this area. Another issue is the invasion of adolescents going to night clubs at South Beach.

Young people act like adults but cannot see the risk of it, or the problem in which they may be involved. Teenagers using fake identification to drink alcohol are seen as well. As a matter of fact, there exist already organizations taking actions on these problems.This stark and shocking reality that exists behind the sunny beaches and dazzling façade will be the subject matter of this short discourse.

The grim realities that face those who live on the other side of Miami Beach deserve just as much consideration and attention as those beauties tanning their well-toned bodies on the sunny beach.  The homeless of Miami Beach may even perhaps be more deserving of that attention.The basic thesis of this discussion will revolve around the issue of how the socio-economic problems in Miami Beach are actually caused by the contrasting lifestyles in the different areas due to the local government inability to remove the detrimental elements.  This short discussion will therefore chronicle this ordeal and provide a look at the other side of the mirror.

It will also include a brief discussion of how the public and private sectors can help in this matter.;Outline of the Problem:To begin with, people living in the streets can be considered as one of the many problems besetting the population of any city as it affects both directly and indirectly the entire citizenry. One of the many cities around the world facing the issue of homeless people is Miami Beach. Although many Americas think the opposite, they believe homeless people become what they are because they didn’t want to study, work, or just succeed in life; this is not always the case.

In fact, the most common case is associated with their personal history. For instance, many claims to be abandoned by their relatives faced family problems issues and just decided to escape and also experienced personal and sexual abuse at home.  Resolving this ‘crisis’ should be one of the immediate prerogatives of any local government which should be addressed with the needed resources and solutions. The private sphere can also contribute to the resolution of this problem and the rest of the others that go along with it.

The action of ignoring reality is seen as normal through most residents and tourists of the city.  Miami Beach looks so rich and glitzy in the movies, yet poverty abounds in reality.  Poor people sleep on the beach and streets.   A long term resident, Georgina Santiago, still doesn’t have the Beach in focus.

She claims , “Living for twenty years in Miami Beach, I can say I love the atmosphere, the beauty of the beach when I wake up every morning and look out the window, the restaurants I have very close to my place, the night life…” When Georgina was asked “What aspects bother you about living right on the beach?” she answered with a relaxed tone, “There is really nothing that bothers me about living right here at the beach.

The only possible factor could be that the place where I work is about 45 minutes away from my place” Her response blew me away, thinking to myself, the fact of people living on the streets and surviving on leftover food found in the dumpsters didn’t bother her.  This is the stark reality that is portrayed in the Miami Beach that most people do not know about.As it is perceived in the  photographs, men in wheelchairs with no place to live, bag ladies, young people sleeping on streets, crazy people yelling stuff like “I’ve been drunk for a whole week” didn’t bother her either. Nevertheless, some people worry about it and looked forward to helping this people in need.

Actually, in a recent Miami Beach candidate debate the mayor pointed out that “It seems that there are more homeless people and vagrants wandering the streets of the city than ever before.”  The homeless population increases by day. The beach, a place to take the family and enjoy the atmosphere, has become without doubt a homeless home. So this is an issue the candidate recognizes the city has to address.

Since poverty essentially entails a growing number of poor people inhabiting the streets and beaches of Miami, it can demote the status of the city as an esteemed destination for tourists and local citizens alike. Not only can poverty degrade the imagery of Miami Beach and thus result in depreciation in tourist attraction, it can also bring health and sanitation issues as poor and sickly people freely roam the public places.One of the highest statistics of poverty in US is located in Miami. It ranked in the bottom five of cities for more than 250,000 people with the highest poverty rates, joining Detroit, Buffalo, NY, Cincinnati, and Cleveland (Tompkins).

Poverty is indeed a main issue to Miami Beach for the reason that the city is known for its magnificent scenery. A large part of the economy which sustains and uplifts the development of Miami Beach depends on tourism.Yet people from other countries or states don’t see these problems. So, tourism has stayed stable for several years.

In addition, people still travel to Miami; enjoy Miami Beach’s beaches, SoBe’s night life and so on. However, it is depressing how humans only think about what goes on in their own picture of life instead of looking at the bigger picture and the wretched details of how others are in need of help. Instead, people’s primordial interest is focused on having fun. The night life is one of the biggest attractions in the Miami Beach strip, but problems such as fights, arguing on the street, uncontrollable behavior under the influence of alcohol intoxication, and drug addictions have also risen almost everywhere.

That is one of the reasons the city made its police presence highly visible.In marketing Miami Beach as a tourist attraction, the local government is therefore sacrificing many of the core values that make the local society a better place for the local residents.  This emphasis on generating revenue for the city has come at a high price, the degradation of the moral fabric of society. Police Presence in Miami Beach:”In the state of Florida, I can say the most vigilant area is Miami Beach.

It is very safe! You’ll find police officers anytime, anywhere you go.” Georgina affirmed what anyone can see. The above collage of photograph shows evidence of police staying on patrol 24/7.  The yellow jeep and blue car might have been stopped for a number of reasons, including speeding, the tail light might have been broken, or the driver might have been under the influence of alcohol while driving.

However, even though there are troopers and police officers on every street, security issues have slipped out of hand. This is a city where every day thousands of people walk, shop, club, or visit. Because of this, it is harder to gain full control on all situations which comprise Miami on a daily basis.In addition, drug addiction problems have become more common in this city.

Since Miami is located at the south, near other South America countries, the city has become an avenue for transporting drugs. However, it is not an easy task, since the police abound in the area, but people still bring and distribute these drugs to our country. Miami is a major gateway for South American heroin distribution throughout the northeast U.S. (National Drug Rehab Referral Alliance). Heroin is readily available throughout Florida, with the highest concentrations in the central and southern parts of the state. In the past, these entire situations were well controlled by the state. The cases of drugs addictions were significantly less than they are nowadays.

The diagram depicts how the violations of taking or using drugs were managed in the years 1997-2001. As you can see, the arrests have been decreasing since the year 1997. It has been hard to control these problems. It changes dramatically the outlook of our city.

In fact, one of the most relevant questions during the last Miami Beach’s candidates debate by the mayor was “what can you do to alleviate the blighted look of South Beach while at the same time promoting our reputation as an ‘open city’?” It is obvious that South Beach is preoccupied with this situation. However, it requires help from the state but also from each citizen of the city.On the other hand, over the past years, SoBe has become one of the most talked about hot spots. Not for its beaches, but for its all-night clubs.

They are well-known for the diverse styles of music, entertainment and expensive alcohol tabs. Since Miami Beach is an international party city, having a mix of all kinds of cultures and ethnicities is not a farfetched reality.  NIGHT LIFE IN MIAMI BEACH-FLThese photos represent the high and quick movement of the city that never sleeps. One characteristic of the night life  is the sexual eccentricity and open attitude toward relationships.

Georgina claimed “as you walk through the streets at South Beach you’ll see lesbians or gays holding hands and kissing. You also see people dressed with hardly any clothes on whatsoever.” There is plenty of freedom, but it doesn’t show a positive message. It does not educate teenagers who walk through it. “When I leave South Beach and see the sun coming out, I know it’s been a good night.” claims Mary, the girl in the photograph. The exotic teenager above who is dressed in a beige tube dress is in a night club at South Miami Beach. However, Mary is just 19 years old but has a fake driver’s license that gets her into the clubs at South Miami Beach every weekend night.

She has been doing this for several years. This is just one example of a single person, but numerous other teenagers do this as well. So far this year, more than 400 teenagers have been caught in clubs for adults 21 and over. People from the outside do not see these negative aspects. It can be very shocking for people who are not used to dealing with these types of problems.;Analysis of Problem:Although people sometimes need to experience these situations in order to believe, this photo essay demonstrates the reality of each day at the Miami Beach.

The pictures were taken at different days and hours, and all these indicate a daily parallel from among the numerous situations: streets full of people, homeless people looking for food, sleeping at the beach, and police officers seen at every corner. Even though this is a gorgeous and attractive city, it requires a great deal of attention since many of homeless people stay out there waiting to be recognized and receive ample help.

Prostitution and situations which escape the police’s hands also require needed attention and action. Most of the time people will see and value the ritzy things which are wonderful to recognize. However, the reality of the scene shouldn’t be ignored. In the future, our own world will only become a degrading place to live in if we ignore these true facts of life.

There exist private and government organizations and individuals willing to help the homeless individuals roaming the streets and beaches of Miami Beach. To name some: the Commission for Women specializes in providing assistance to women who are living in or below the poverty line in Miami Beach by conducting workshops concerning pay equity and employment. HOPE in Miami Beach, a non-profit faith based organization that provides housing, emotional therapies, medical and psychological treatments, job training and job placement, and spiritual support. HOPE organization creates a lot of different events for homeless.

They all celebrate together as a big family all the important holidays. As seen in the picture, the people received food, supplies, haircuts, self confidence, and happiness. These events build their HOPES strong.  The pictures depict homeless enjoying in the ‘Thanks Giving’ celebration event by the HOPE in Miami Beach organization.

The hosts of this organization claim that homeless are worthy people that just need to feel attention, consideration, interest, support and love from others. Furthermore, CRUSADA, an organization dedicated to providing not only research but also actual practice, seeks to determine and provide plenty information concerning the poverty status in Miami-Dade County and acts on the necessary measures within the organization’s capacity.

The government of Miami Beach, through its different agencies, has also provided the necessary measures to help the homeless stay off the streets. For instance, the Health Department of Miami Beach has previously conducted activities which seek to prevent diseases and promote programs which aim at promoting the health of the citizens.

Other recent programs by the local government include the Revised Policy on De-concentration of Poverty and Promoting Mixed Incomes.  This program was based on the socio-economic segregation that was occurring in different parts of Miami Beach.  According to certain studies, by removing some elements and exposing them to the other classes or income groups, the lower income groups change the behavioral patterns and try to adapt.  By de-emphasizing the economic class distinctions that were highlighted by the previous segregation, this program has helped improve the status in Miami Beach.


Miami Beach has been the paradise destination of many people because of its sceneries and other tourist spots. Yet the looming problem of poverty and homeless people poses a threat in the development and popularity of the city. Although efforts from both the private and public sectors are already providing measures to counter and resolve the poverty problem in Miami Beach, it is apparent that much is yet needed. The persisting homeless individuals freely roaming the streets, beaches and other spots in the city make Miami Beach encounter future problems.

The problem, as stated previously, is that this gap between the different classes in Miami Beach society has been the reason why poverty lurks just behind the golden beaches.  The recent efforts of the local government to bridge that divide and offer not just a tourist attraction but a safe one at that have done wonders for the people of Miami Beach.  The key to cleaning up Miami Beach lies in the government relocation and housing activities aimed at reducing poverty and homelessness.There lurks a harsh and real truth behind the golden and sandy beaches of Miami; a reality that many have often chosen to just ignore.

There is a major problem that exists here and that is the socio-economic impact that the beach lifestyle has brought.  As more and more of Miami is invaded by the drug and turf wars, the impact on society becomes much greater.  The problem that people have to deal with is not the violence but rather the impact that it creates in society: the homeless, the unemployed, and the teenage drinking problem.  In order to make Miami Beach the real paradise that it projects itself to be, a step must be taken towards addressing the issues behind the mirror, behind the glitz and glamour.

Work Cited

  1. Alvarado, Francisco. “South Beach Menace”.  2007.  Miami New Times. October 8 2007. ;;.
  2. Bandell, Brian. “Census highlights Miami poverty, lower Palm Beach wages”.  Miami, 2005.  South Florida Business Journal. November 3 2007.

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The Miami Beach MirrorImages of Homelessness, Adolescence, Drug Addiction and PoliceIn Miami Beach  . (2017, Apr 06). Retrieved from