Approximately a dozen sex offenders living under a bridge linking Miami to Miami Beach have until today to find another place to call home, officials said.
The men took up the makeshift residence under the Julia Tuttle Causeway after a Miami-Dade County ordinance passed in 2005 made it illegal for convicted sex offenders to live within 2,500 feet of schools. They said they were unable to find affordable housing that did not violate the ordinance.
Last month, however, an owner of land under a Fort Lauderdale bridge evicted residents living there, and a state Department of Corrections spokeswoman said Saturday: "We have every indication this is going to happen statewide."
"We're being proactive by giving them more time to move," said Gretl Plessinger, spokeswoman for the department, which supervises offenders after their release. Plessinger noted, however, that the causeway residents may stay if the bridge owner agrees.
Parole officers have passed out information on alternative accommodations - most hundreds of miles away from Miami.
Bridge resident Juan Carlos Martin doesn't know where to go.
"What are we supposed to do," Martin asked. "We had a nice place going here. ... It's not a perfect situation. We have no running water, but we had it set up like home, like a community."
The eviction will "ultimately boomerang on the city" and cause offenders to go underground, said Ray Taseff of the American Civil Liberties Union in Miami, which plans to help the group.
"This is the government that created homelessness," Taseff said, "and now the government is effectively trying to banish them from the community."