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3/8/03 - Miami Herald
Group seeks to save public housing
by Andrea Robinson
A new community coalition opposed to a massive redevelopment project in Liberty
City has proposed its own plan, which would allow public housing tenants to stay
in their old neighborhood once construction is completed.
This week, the group went to County Hall to urge Miami-Dade Mayor Alex Penelas and
the commissioners to find ''the political will'' to pressure the county's housing
agency to negotiate with them.
At issue is the federally funded HOPE VI project, which aims to transform two of
the county's largest and most storied projects into a suburban oasis in the city.
The county wants to replace 850 barracks-style apartments in the James E. Scott
and Carver projects with 371 single homes and town houses -- only 80 of which would
be earmarked for public housing. In addition, the county proposes building another
150 homes -- for rent or purchase at market rate -- in the neighborhoods around
The Community Coalition to Fix HOPE VI on Thursday proposed replacing the 850 units
with an equal number of subsidized homes that displaced Scott-Carver tenants could
afford. That would include 120 houses at the renovated site, with the rest within
a two-square-mile radius of the projects.
A group of low-income tenants hand-delivered copies to all 13 county commissioners
and executives at the housing agency. A copy was delivered to Penelas' office, aides
say, but the mayor was not there.
Sherra McLeod, housing agency spokeswoman, said officials had not reviewed the proposal
and would not comment.
The Rev. Phillip Johns, chief aide to Commissioner Dorrin Rolle, whose district
includes Scott-Carver, said the staff would review it as well.
''If any of their concerns have not been already addressed, we will be happy to
sit with them and meet about it,'' Johns said.
Commissioner Sally Heyman, who was elected in November, said she wanted to hear
''I haven't gotten the gist of what's logical versus what's emotional on the issue,''
Supporters of the county's plan argue that many residents don't want to return to
that neighborhood. They said a number of former tenants have purchased or rented
homes in neighborhoods such as Carol City and North Miami.
But HOPE VI's critics charge many Scott-Carver residents want to stay in the neighborhood,
close to family, friends and other support systems.
But the plan -- which shrinks the stock of subsidized housing -- would price most
project tenants out of the neighborhood.
''During an affordable housing crisis, the county should not reduce the number of
affordable units,'' said Max Rameau, a coalition member.
County Commission Chairwoman Barbara Carey-Shuler on Friday tabled action on an
item related to the redevelopment until the coalition's proposal can be examined
by the commission's economic development committee.
Lida Rodriguez-Taseff, president of the Miami ACLU and a coalition member, said
she would address the plan before the commission.
''Those units are being billed as a solution to the shortage,'' Rodriguez Taseff
said. ``It's a ruse, a fake.''