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8/27/02 - Miami Herald
Crowds turn out to snag forms for
By Nicole White
The lines wrapped around one of Miami
Beach's libraries for several blocks: Women with children in strollers,
a homeless man with a shopping cart overflowing with his possessions,
elderly people resting on folding chairs, all hoping to find affordable
For the first time in four years, the Miami
Beach Housing Authority was accepting applications this week. But of
the thousands lined up Monday -- and thousands more are expected today
and Wednesday -- few will find themselves in affordable housing any
JoNel Newman, an attorney with Florida
Legal Services, said the lines represent one of South Florida's best
kept secrets -- a chronic shortage of affordable housing for residents.
is a huge population here, and the population is growing all the time.
Nobody is developing affordable housing,'' Newman said. ``In fact,
there are more incentives to eliminate public housing.''
than 65,000 people are awaiting subsidized housing in Miami-Dade
County, housing experts said. On the Beach, where affordable housing is
being crowded out by luxury developments, the housing pool is in even
shorter supply because fewer landlords are willing to become part of
the Section 8 program, which gives low-income residents vouchers to
help them pay rent.
''There are a lot of people who
want to live in Miami Beach, and the reality is there is only a limited
amount of housing on the Beach,'' said Vashtye Leon, Section 8 housing
manager for the Housing Authority.
hoping to find affordable housing know their chances are slim, Newman
said they're willing to spend hours in line fueled by hope.
are desperate,'' said Newman. ``Affordable housing is one of the
largest crisis in Dade.''
Miami resident Verneste
Bruce, who was accompanied by her two children Monday, waited four
hours before she got inside the Miami Beach Branch Public Library, 2100
Collins Ave., at 10 a.m.
Her chances of getting on
the list to qualify for housing on the Beach? Almost zero.
the 6,000 applications for housing subsidies handed out by the Miami
Beach Housing Authority on Monday, only 2,000 applicants will even make
it to the waiting list. The agency says preference will go to residents
who live and work on the Beach, those receiving educational training,
the elderly and the disabled.
It took four years for
Miami Beach to clear its last waiting list for Section 8 housing, Leon
Once applicants come in and are able to verify
that they are indeed low-income and can prove the need for housing,
they are given a voucher. But even that doesn't guarantee an affordable
place to live, because it's up to the applicant to find a landlord
willing to accept the voucher and enroll in the Section 8 program, Leon
Miami Beach, whose skyline has seen an influx
of multimillion dollar condominiums and waterfront homes, has fewer and
fewer homes for low-income families, Leon said.
Bermudez, 61, understands the odds all too well. He tried to get on the
list in 1998, but didn't make it.
``I've been here
since 8 a.m., but it was worth it. I need a place to live. What have I
got to lose?'