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Miami Today News - March 9, 2006
Homestead wants no part of county's affordable housing
By Charlotte Libov
County Mayor Carlos Alvarez' order targeting 650 county-owned acres at
Homestead Air Reserve Base for affordable housing could jeopardize the
base's active status, say Homestead officials.
"One of the issues that the government looks at when they are deciding
on base closure is residential encroachment," said Homestead Mayor
Roscoe Warren. "To sustain that base in years to come, we can't have
"Affordable housing is an issue that is countywide," said Steve Shiver,
chairman of the Homestead Air Reserve Joint Land Use Study, which is
looking at how to use surplus land at the base. "This is not just a
South Dade issue. This is an issue that should be taken up by the
length of the county - not forced or finessed in one area of the
Mr. Shiver, former Homestead mayor and county manager, said he is
"aggravated" by the proposal to target the base for housing. Mr.
Alvarez said rising costs of homes here are "exceeding the financial
reach of many low- to moderate-wage workers."
Mr. Alvarez directed County Manager George Burgess on Feb. 10 to list
all county-owned land of an acre or more and analyze "zoning,
environmental, costs, etc.," add affordable housing. His directive
referred included more than 650 acres in the base "that could be used
to provide housing relief."
According to Mr. Alvarez, $137.7 million is allocated to preserve and
create affordable housing through the Building Better Communities
General Obligation Bond.
Homestead Manager Curt Ivy said the issue is sensitive for the city.
"We speak from experience," Mr. Ivy said. "After Hurricane Andrew, they
built income-restricted apartments and people were sent here. Many of
them didn't have jobs or transportation. It really became a management
challenge for the city."
Homestead has a "pretty large" amount of financially assisted housing,
Mr. Ivy said, and officials are concerned about a large influx of
"If you're talking about housing for firemen or teachers, that's one
thing. We would support that for sure," Mr. Ivy said. "That's not what
the concern would be. If you're talking about people who are unemployed
or on welfare, that can negatively impact an area."
Mr. Warren said he is concerned about impact on the Air Force base.
"We have one of the best training facilities now, so what we've been
doing for years is to make sure there is no residential encroachment of
that base," he said. "Any encroachment around that base could
potentially be problematic, and it's something we need to keep in mind
as we look at sustaining that base for a long, long time."
Though the base is not as active as it was before Andrew, he said,
"over the past 10 years it's been built up" and it is now an important
strategic location for the Department of Defense.
Homestead is willing to help with affordable housing, Mr. Ivy said, but
doesn't want to be unfairly burdened. "Everyone has to have a place to
live. We'll do our fair share. It just has to be distributed fairly."