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.
Miami Herald - 11/26/04 -

A place to call home
35 former homeless people get a peek at a new housing complex that will soon be theirs

By Casey Woods

Valencia Davis ran her fingers along the refrigerator in an awed caress before opening the door.

''I can put turkey and ham and everything in here,'' she said to herself as she gazed at the gleaming white shelves. ``I can actually put my stuff on a bed and cook, after sleeping on sidewalks and bus benches and shelter to shelter.''

Davis was on a Thanksgiving Day tour of a model unit in the place she will soon call home: Little River Bend Apartments, the newest development opened by Carrfour Supportive Housing.

The nonprofit Carrfour provides supportive services and housing for the formerly homeless, helping save approximately 700 men, women and children from homelessness since it opened in 1993.

The Little River Bend complex, 8240-60 NE Fourth Pl., will supply permanent housing to 66 people, 35 of whom saw a prototype of their new homes at the ''Home for the Holidays'' Thanksgiving Day brunch thrown by Carrfour.

''Home'' is a word that Davis, 40, hasn't used much during the past two decades.

She has spent half her life living on the street, struggling with the HIV she contracted 20 years ago and the alcoholism that has plagued her for years.

''I had to turn my life over to God,'' Davis said Thursday. ``He said angels will come and help you, and they did.''

The ''angels'' were members of Miami's Homeless Outreach Team, who helped identify homeless adults in the Little River neighborhood and elsewhere in Miami to live in the development.

All of the future residents have some kind of disability, ranging from mental illness to substance abuse. They had to go through treatment programs to be eligible for the Little River Bend project, where they will also receive counseling, training and healthcare.

Carrfour staff members hope to have them in their homes by Christmas.

''This gives residents an opportunity to start over and rebuild their lives,'' said Maria Pellerin Barcus, Carrfour's president and chief executive. ``We try to create a homelike atmosphere, so that residents take pride in living here and can restore their dignity and self-confidence.''

The homes are furnished with kitchen appliances, televisions and blond wood furniture. White lamps cast a warm light over decorating accents in a cascade of moss and muted yellows.

To Davis and the other future residents touring the apartment, it represented a soft landing after a hard road.

Some, like Jimmie Clark, were quiet. He sat on the bed, gazing at the lush surroundings in amazement. Others wanted to tell their story.

''I've been clean five months this month, and it took me 24 years to get to this point,'' said Lamare Washington, 40, who said he's been battling a cocaine addiction for more than two decades and spent the past year homeless because of it.

''I've been given a second chance, and the apartment is going to give me the opportunity to carve out a better life,'' he said. ``This is like a dream.'