Google Ads help pay the expense of maintaining this site

Click Here for the Neighborhood Transformation Website

Fair Use Disclaimer

Neighborhood Transformation is a nonprofit, noncommercial website that, at times, may contain copyrighted material that have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. It makes such material available in its efforts to advance the understanding of poverty and low income distressed neighborhoods in hopes of helping to find solutions for those problems. It believes that this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. Persons wishing to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of their own that go beyond 'fair use' must first obtain permission from the copyright owner.
8/27/02 - Miami Herald

Crowds turn out to snag forms for low-cost housing

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 housing.

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 time soon.

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.

''There 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.''

More 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.

While those hoping to find affordable housing know their chances are slim, Newman said they're willing to spend hours in line fueled by hope.

''People 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.

Of 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 said.

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 said.

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.

Emilio 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?'