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Info-Fax 5/25/01

Miami Dade CDCs Play Central Role in Community Redevelopment
An Outline of Accomplishments

By John Ise.

Miami-Dade's CDCs/CBOs have played a central role and have an impressive record of accomplishments in our struggling neighborhoods. Here is a list of just some of their accomplishments.

BAME CDC: Working in Miami's struggling Overtown neighborhood, BAME CDC, affiliated with the historic Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, has been at the forefront in providing economic and housing opportunities, along with homeownership counseling, for the community. Having completed over 210 multifamily units of housing with an additional 52 in production, BAME CDC is an anchor institution in a community that has been all-too-often abandoned and forgotten.

Carrfour Corp.: Carrfour Corporation is the non-profit, community based, supportive housing development organization established by the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce to combat homelessness. Carrfour serves the formerly homeless and those at risk of homelessness, including Miami-Dade's special needs and very low income populations. Carrfour projects have not only proven to be real assets to assisting their residents in becoming self sufficient and productive; but have become assets to the vitality of the neighborhoods in which they are located as well.

Coconut Grove Local Development Corporation: The Coconut Grove LDC, celebrating their 10th year of activism in the West Coconut Grove target area, has much to look back on with pride. In the last 10 years, the LDC has rehabilitated over 80 single family housing units, constructed 32 award winning single family homes, completed over 60 commercial facades on Grand Ave., provided technical assistance for the establishment and retention of over 60 local businesses, and has actively provided a host of social services that has assisted thousands of the West Grove's residents. With so much already accomplished, the next 10 years of Coconut Grove LDC will undoubtedly be bright.

Centro Campesino Farmworkers Center: Centro Campesino, one of the few CBOs that specifically targets their efforts in improving the lives and promoting self-sufficiency of migrant and seasonal farmworkers in rural south Miami-Dade County, has over the years successfully developed over 400 affordable new homes, an education and job training center, a modern child care center, a youth development project, a leadership training and community building program, and a community center. Centro Campesino is an institution that is actively promoting and representing Miami-Dade's migrant community while offering a strong network of social services and housing opportunities.

CODEC: Formed as a sister organization of the Cuban American National Council, CODEC has been a leader in creating integrated, mixed income housing opportunities in the central city neighborhoods as well as wealthier neighborhoods away from the County's urban core. Having leveraged millions of dollars in private investments and Federal grants, CODEC has produced close to 1,500 units of housing for the County's low income elderly population, and the production of what will be a senior citizen service center.

DEEDCO: Having just completed the Brownsville Renaissance Center that will provide 29,600 sq. ft. in retail space in central Miami, DEEDCO has been revitalized and renewed. With the Brownsville Renaissance Center and 7 other projects underway, including a telecommunications center that will create 80 permanent jobs in Little Haiti, 315 units of housing, and funding to start planning DEEDCO Gardens II (77-100 units of elderly housing); DEEDCO is once again poised to assume a central position in community development efforts throughout the County.

East Little Havana CDC: The City of Miami's East Little Havana community has been ground zero for much of the immigration to South Florida over the past 30 years. The people of East Little Havana are primarily recent immigrants from Central and South America, and the neighborhood has, in turn, experienced many problems commonly associated with poverty. East Little Havana CDC, however, has been actively working to change that. The organization has made great strides in creating jobs, rehabilitating commercial facilities, providing services, and building over 350 of affordable housing units. ELHCDC helps residents and business owners participate in and benefit from the revitalization of the East Little Havana area, thereby stabilizing the community and offering the real chance at sustained development.

Goulds CDC: While being a relative newcomer in the field of community development, Goulds CDC has proven itself in little time. With their Historic Goulds Storeporch District project, Goulds CDC will promote economic redevelopment while preserving a bit of Goulds' history for future generations to enjoy and appreciate. Along with providing 80 infill housing units for homeownership and homeownership education nearby, Goulds CDC is as much creating a future community while preserving past one.

Greater Miami Neighborhoods, Inc.: Greater Miami Neighborhoods (GMN), an outgrowth from a public-private initiative of The Enterprise Foundation in the mid-1980s, has been one of the strongest and most holistic of all CDCs in the County. GMN has taken the philosophic approach that the creation of "community" comes not from the mere provision of housing, social services, or economic development; but rather from activities that address all the needs within the community, on a multi-facited level, with the residents involved in each step of a project's implementation. GMN has been directly or indirectly involved with the provision and preservation of over 5,000 units of housing. Currently, GMN has teamed with U.S. HUD and Miami-Dade County, in a homeownership project that will involve offering close to 100 residents homeownership opportunities while revitalizing a distressed neighborhood.

The Haitian American Foundation: Offering social services, education, and employment opportunities to the often over-looked Haitian community in Miami-Dade; the Haitian American Foundation has become a central entity in advocacy and economic development efforts for the County's Haitian American community. In addition to the provision of social services, the Foundation is spearheading the Creole Marketplace project that will not only hopefully boost Miami's Little Haiti neighborhood, but also serve as a destination point for the region's tourists who seek to experience an authentic Caribbean open air market all the while patronizing local businesses and artists.

Jubilee CDC: Jubilee CDC; a faith- based CDC sponsored by the Catholic, Lutheran, United Methodist, and Presbyterian churches; has developed affordable housing and economic development projects that have positively contributed to the vitality of the vast number of neighborhoods it targets. With close to 500 units of single and multi family housing having been developed, Jubilee has successfully enhanced the social and economic condition of thousands of low-income individuals and families throughout Miami-Dade.

Little Haiti Housing Assoc.: Without a doubt, one of Miami-Dade's most enduring CBO is the Little Haiti Housing Assoc., which has become the principal driving force in the redevelopment of Miami's Little Haiti community. Founded in 1987 by community and church leaders, Little Haiti Housing Association, Inc. has provided more than 70 families with homes, rehabilitated a 56-unit apartment complex, and graduated more than 300 families from its Home Ownership Training Program to date. Now, in partnership with the Little Haiti Credit Union, LHHA is building on the entrepreneurial spirit of the Haitian community through small business development and organizing the community at the grassroots level to take on the persistent challenges of the neighborhood.

Miami Beach CDC: The explosion of redevelopment activity and the breadth of the changes that have taken place on Miami Beach simply would not have occurred in the manner it did without the works of the Miami-Beach CDC. Through the CDC's multifamily housing program, the homebuyer assistance program, its facade improvement program, the rehabilitation of over 250 housing units, its housing counseling program, and the development of unique special needs housing for the elderly and people afflicted with HIV; Miami-Beach CDC can take pride in the fact that the incredible growth and development on the beach is a direct result of its long history and activism in the once-blighted community.

Miami Dade Neighborhood Housing Services: Organized in 1978, Miami-Dade NHS has been the leader in arresting the deterioration of the West Little River neighborhood through its extensive community lending program for housing rehabilitation efforts, the new construction of affordable homeownership units, homeownership education, and the direct rehabilitation of over 100 units.

Urban League of Greater Miami: Targeting Model City, the Urban League's unified and comprehensive approach to revitalization efforts are apparent on a number of levels. From their "Child Development Zone" which aims at improving the lives all residents in their target area through education, mentoring, and crime prevention initiatives to their housing and economic development efforts that include the production and management of over 500 high quality affordable housing units and small business development efforts; the Urban League is at the forefront in the redevelopment of Model City.

Nehemiah Project of Homestead, Inc.: The Nehemiah Project, a nonprofit affordable housing provider affiliated with the Mennonite Church, had its starting in 1992 as a response to the widespread destruction of Hurricane Andrew. Since then, Nehemiah has rehabilitated 50 single family homes that were either damaged or neglected as a consequence of Andrew and provides on-going homeownership counseling. Nehemiah has successfully provided homeownership opportunities to very low income residents of Homestead and South Dade whose annual incomes are often well below 20% of the Median Income of Miami-Dade.

Opa Locka CDC: In spite of recent negative newsreports, Opa Locka CDC has proved itself to be an integral and vital player in redevelopment efforts in Opa-Locka. By providing housing services, economic development efforts, and community organizing; Opa Locka CDC has contributed tremendously to a community that local government has all too often neglected. With the construction of over 400 affordable units (90 under construction), the rehabilitation of 35 units of housing, and its historic preservation efforts, Opa-Locka CDC has a track record to be proud of.

St. John's CDC: Growing out of the Overtown neighborhood anchor institution of St. John's Baptist Church, St. John's CDC is poised to begin the rebirth of Overtown through housing initiatives, commercial facade improvements, and homeownership counseling. With over 40 homes and multifamily units already in place, St. John's will soon be developing 16 individual parcels of land in Overtown for multi- and single family homeownership in one of the most challenging and impoverished environments in Miami-Dade County.

Tacolcy CDC: Tacolcy is one of the few nonprofit developers of affordable housing and community development based in and for Miami's Liberty City neighborhood. Tacolcy has over the years assisted the troubled Liberty City recover from the riots of the late 1980s, and provided a vital impetus to the recovery and revitalization of the community. Having completed over 2000 units of multi and scattered site housing and with more on the way, Tacolcy has become a beacon of hope in Liberty City and beyond.

Universal Truth CDC: Active in the holistic redevelopment of the Vista Verde and Carol City neighborhoods since 1994; Universal Truth, a faith-based organization, has been leading the way with projects for the rehabilitation of housing, street improvements and infrastructure upgrades, neighborhood beautification, and homeownership education. Universal Truth, affiliated with Universal Truth Center/Ministries, is the sole and principal agency reshaping the Vista Verde and Carol City neighborhoods with an emphasis on the sustainability of its projects.

Weed & Seed: The progress and vitality that has been visibly apparent in the redevelopment of Liberty City can be thanked in a large part to the community organizing efforts of Weed & Seed. Working in conjunction with local law enforcement and government, Weed & Seed has organized at the grassroots the residents of Liberty City in promoting infill-housing and code enforcement, youth leadership training, crime prevention and rehabilitation, homeownership training, small business development counseling, and has assisted over 200 residents with job training and placement.

West Perrine CDC: Since its inception in 1985, there are few CDCs that are as active and comprehensive in their approach to community economic development as is the West Perrine CDC. Having assisted with the development of a strategic plan for the holistic revitalization of the community, West Perrine has successfully produced close to 350 units of single family housing and an additional 162 units of multifamily units for low income residents. Additionally, the CDC has developed a business Enterprise Center; the Lee Lawrence Commercial Center; the West Perrine Housing Opportunity Center (for homeownership counseling), neighborhood beautification projects, infrastructure upgrade initiatives, as well as a host of public safety, social service, and youth activities.

Wind & Rain, Inc.: As the largest for-profit developer of affordable single family homeownership infill units in the any predominately African American neighborhood in the City of Miami, Wind & Rain has been an intricate component in revitalization of the "Black (Western) Grove" section of Coconut Grove. The concept behind Wind & Rain, Inc. is comprised of a central yet simple idea: anybody who is working and trying to better themselves deserves a chance at the American Dream of owning their own home. With Wind & Rain; that chance is increasingly becoming a reality.

While the individual actions and efforts of any one of Miami-Dade's CDC and CBO described might seem peripheral to the casual observer; taken collectively they are changing the face of our urban communities, offering hope where there was once was little to none. It's true that many of our neighborhoods are still poor and may remain so. However, community and economic development efforts by community based organizations assist the residents to live in more stable and secure environments in a manner that public bureaucratic agencies cannot. What is needed more than anything else is a greater degree of public-private partnerships to jump start venture development activity in Miami-Dade's most distressed neighborhoods where regular market forces have ceased to exist.

With neither government nor the "market" offering solutions to intransigent poverty and social disorganization; the CDCs/CBOs described are learning the rough and tough terrain of our poorest communities. Each of their successes is a small miracle in its own right and each is a building brick to a greater, more just society. Take all that into account, and the local press' "gotcha" articles seem to be missing the bigger story. If local media took the time to listen, they might notice that a silent revolution is taking place in our low income neighborhoods.