The Filth And Horror on 9th Street (www.sobehostel.com
I checked in and was given the key to my room and was told to pick a bunk. I opened the door and was greeted by an awful stench. A sickly looking fellow was huddled in the bottom corner bunk; clothes and trash were strewn across the other three. Dirty paper plates and pizza boxes were all over the floor. The fellow told me to "Get in or get out...I work nights and need to sleep." I returned to the desk and was reassigned to a room with "some really good guys" in it. The room itself was miserable; the beds were rickety and the mattresses were absurdly thin and filthy. The bathroom was disgusting with scum all over the shower walls and floor and trash piled in the corner (largely the fault of the roomates, but it was still there after the "cleaning crew" came through later that afternoon.
Thankful that I had only paid for one night up front, I went down to the TV room. The smell of my first room was nothing compared to this stagnant basement room with no a/c. The adjoining kitchen (refered to on their website as "Full modern kitchen") was boarded up and had a sign stating that it had been closed by order of the Miami Fire Department. Upstairs on the patio, I met a motley crew. Among them were two people who tried to sell me drugs, a constantly drunk single mother and three folks who were obscenely high. All of these were full time residents. I also met two homeless people who hung out there full time, one of whom had been stabbed in front the day before and two single female travellers (Australian and British) who had been there for a couple of days (had prepaid and were on a tight budget). The girls had been subject to some pretty obscene sexual harrasment and had been agressively thrown out of their room in the middle of the day by a full time resident who had been out drinking until 6AM the night before. They had also been involved in their first gun incident (one was pulled in front of the hostel, though not fired).
The three of us travellers (the only ones at this shelter...ummm...hostel) went out that evening and returned at 2AM. The door was wide open and the desk was unmanned. We wandered upstairs to our respective rooms without encountering any staff. I slept until 5AM, at which point I was awakened by two of my roomates screaming at each other about a missing phone charger. I asked them to leave several times, consistantly ignored, until one (who checked in as a doctor, told me he was an army pilot and told the girls he was a law student) accused me of stealing it and started clawing at my bag. Ultimately, a staff member was located and the situation was defused, though my sleep was shot.
I checked out the next and moved to the HI (VERY nice and cheaper to boot). The girls still had nights left, but had reached their threshold and asked to leave too (and felt uncomfortable enough to ask me to be present). They told the fellow at the front desk that they felt unsafe because of the harrasment, to which he replied, "maybe it's your fault for wearing skimpy clothing." They then asked to talk to the manager...no dice; he wouldn't put them in touch with anyone. When we said that we were going to involve the police, he offered to upgrade them to a private room in which they might feel safer. Inspection found what appeared to be feces smeared on one mattress and blood on the dresser (in addition to the standard filth).
At this point we visited the local police station where they said that they were aware of the situation at the hostel but were unable to do anything because these were civil, rather than criminal, matters (with the exception of the harrassment incidents which would require filings against each individual and would be pointless if the girls didn't stay in Miami to assist prosicution).
The girls decided to cut their losses and forfeit the money, despite the fact that they really couldn't afford to.
Please, for the love of all that is good, avoid this place like the plague. If you stay there, you are just asking for trouble. Most of their PR
info is untrue and they rent to anyone, traveler or not, with discounts for long term residents. It's, quite simply, an unclean, unsafe and uncomfortable place to be.