El Portal Residents Will Get Paid $360K To Move Out Of Trailer Park

El Portal Residents Will Get Paid $360K To Move Out Of Trailer Park

The owners of an El Portal trailer park and the Village of El Portal will pay $360,000 to the families living at the park.

This settlement, reached through mediation, is a victory for the remaining residents of the Little Farm trailer park who have been battling the park’s owner, Wealthy Delight LLC, and the village for more than a year now after it was announced the park would close.

Legal Services of Greater Miami attorney Evian White and the Community Justice Project sued on behalf of tenantsat the park. The lawsuit alleged that El Portal did not follow state law when itfailed to study whether adequate housing was available before signing off on a settlement agreement with Wealthy Delight that called for the park’s closure.

What’s in a name? Little Haiti boundaries now official

What’s in a name? Little Haiti boundaries now official

What’s in a name?

In Lemon City — make that Little Haiti — the answer, for those who live and work in the community, is everything.

And so cheers erupted and brows furrowed Thursday in jam-packed Miami City Hall when commissioners voted unanimously to designate Little Haiti as an official city neighborhood. The creation of legal boundaries for the community in northeast Miami has been pushed for years, but always unsuccessfully due largely to overlapping boundaries with Lemon City, a historic neighborhood that predated the incorporation of Miami.

Miami Could Officially Put Little Haiti on the Map This Week, but Opponents Prepared to Fight

Miami Could Officially Put Little Haiti on the Map This Week, but Opponents Prepared to Fight

There's already a Little Haiti Cultural Center and a Little Haiti Park. Ask any Miamian for directions to Little Haiti and they won't hesitate to point you toward the Caribbean area centered on NE Second Avenue. And yet Little Haiti has never been an officially designated neighborhood in the City of Miami.

That could finally change this week. Commissioners on Thursday will consider a resolution to finally put Little Haiti on the map, a move activists have pushed for years. The change wouldn't just recognize Haitian contributions to the city, they say, it would help battle gentrification.

The Scott Carver Files: Residents Gather to Memorialize the Past

The Scott Carver Files: Residents Gather to Memorialize the Past

Recently, family members, friends, students and professors from the University of Miami, organizers from the Miami Workers Center and others gathered for a reunion to memorialize the Scott Carver Projects housing tragedy through archived photos, fliers, videos and oral histories. Residents hope the event will raise awareness about similar housing projects in Liberty Square, and will bring Scott Carver homeowners together.

The reunion was held at the NFL YET Center at Gwen Cherry Park on Saturday, April 23. For past resident Yvonne Stratford, the fight to save the community she remembered decades ago ended with saving the last building.

She's The 'Mayor' Of Little Farm Trailer Park

She's The 'Mayor' Of Little Farm Trailer Park

Blan lives in single white trailer. She’s a 72-year old widow. Originally from Haiti, Blan is one of several Haitians who call the park home.  Among her Haitian neighbors she is called “la majistra”—Creole for “the mayor.”

“They call me the mayor because I watch out for them,” she says.

For about a year now, the people living at the  trailer park have been fighting to stay in their homes. The property’s new owner, Wealthy Delight LLC, plans to demolish the trailers and redevelop the land.

Taking the High Ground—and Developing It

Taking the High Ground—and Developing It

A little over year ago, residents of the Little Farm trailer park, which sits a couple blocks outside of Little Haiti and holds 100 mobile homes, were told they were being evicted. The park’s new owners, a Chinese shell company, wanted to clear it for development. But clearing out is not so simple: While the homes originally were movable when they were wheeled in the ‘40s and ‘50s, they deteriorated to the point that they were effectively fixed to the ground.

Little Farm’s homeowners have little choice but to leave. Sophia Alexandre and her husband have owned their mobile home in Little Farm for the last four years, raising two children in their three-bedroom trailer, where school awards and family pictures take up every inch of limited wall space and smells from their garden waft through the windows. Alexandre, along with other Haitian immigrants, pays $500 a month to live there and expected to do so for many years to come. “But that’s not what happened,” she says. She doesn’t know where they’ll live next, now that some of the last remaining low-income, non-subsidized housing in Miami-Dade County is disappearing.

“Where can they go and pay the same amount of rent? Nowhere.”

El Portal Trailer Park Evictions Highlight Miami's Giant Real-Estate Disparity

 El Portal Trailer Park Evictions Highlight Miami's Giant Real-Estate Disparity

The bulldozers were the worst. The noise and dust bothered the residents of Little Farm Trailer Park — a 15-acre low-income community just off Biscayne Boulevard in El Portal — and so did the newly vacant lots. They were a stark reminder of the fate residents feared awaited their own homes.

Politicians say Miami ‘slums’ prove need for new laws

Politicians say Miami ‘slums’ prove need for new laws

At least $118,000 have been spent on repairs, operations, maintenance and insurance at 6040 NW 12th Ave. and at eight other run-down Liberty City and Overtown apartment buildings owned by the same New Jersey couple since a judge appointed a third-party receiver this summer to manage the properties. Court records show thousands have been spent targeting pest infestations, illegally wired electric rooms, structural issues and shoddy plumbing.

But years of neglect have left behind a to-do list too expensive to address with only the meager rent generated by the buildings. Even after the city of Miami prevailed in court against landlords Abraham and Denise Vaknin — and after seven months of efforts by new management — tenants, attorneys and advocates agree there is still a lot of work left to do before the roughly 100 individuals and families residing in these buildings have a suitable place to live.

“The receiver has done what she can do and the courts have done what they can do. But that's not going to be enough to sustain long-term changes,” said Alana Greer, a Community Justice Project attorney representing low-income tenants at the 6040 building, where tenants in two units say their ceilings once buckled above their sleeping children. “It’s a business model to basically let these places run down.”

Miami Trailer Park Residents Keep Eviction Fight Alive

Miami Trailer Park Residents Keep Eviction Fight Alive

Residents of a Miami trailer park who face eviction in February won a round Wednesday when a Florida appeals court revived a tenant's lawsuit against the sale and closing of the park.

The state's Third District Court of Appeal reversed the dismissal of appellant Barbara Falkinburg's suit and instructed the trial court to speed up consideration of her claims for declaratory and injunctive relief. Falkinburg contends the Village of El Portal violated state law by signing off on a deal to close the park without conducting a relocation study.
 

Appeals Court: El Portal Violated State Law In Trailer Park Closure Plans

Appeals Court: El Portal Violated State Law In Trailer Park Closure Plans

The Village of El Portal violated a state law when it failed to study whether adequate housing was available for residents of a mobile home park it plans to shut down.

In an opinion from the state Third District Court of Appeal, the court found that  the village took official action to close the Little Farm mobile home park when it approved a settlement agreement with the property’ owner,  Wealthy Delight LLC.

Little Haiti residents, businesses say developers pricing them out of neighborhood

Little Haiti residents, businesses say developers pricing them out of neighborhood

Longtime residents, business owners and civic leaders gathered in Miami’s Little Haiti neighborhood on Thursday to deliver a message about their rapidly changing community: “We want to stay.”

Residents and activists, many carrying hand-written signs declaring “Little Haiti is not for sale” and “Say no to gentrification,” said real estate developers and speculators are buying up land and pushing out the people and small businesses that give the neighborhood its distinct Caribbean character.

Tears flow as El Portal trailer residents are forced out

Tears flow as El Portal trailer residents are forced out

For years, Jules and other impoverished residents of El Portal’s Little Farm mobile home park have lived on second chances.

The rundown trailer park has burned through four owners in less than 10 years. There was a bankruptcy and two lawsuits — the latter a last-ditch attempt to save perhaps 150 families from eviction. A previous owner racked up $8 million in code enforcement fines for leaking sewage, overflowing garbage and dangerous electrical wiring.

The Village of El Portal envisions the 15-acre property as an upscale new development, with townhouses, apartments and shops. The park’s new owner, a company called Wealthy Delight, hasn’t said what it wants to build there, the village manager said, though it has become clear that the plans don’t include trailers with poor people and elders.

Fannie, Freddie to Start Paying Into Low-Income Housing Fund

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (FMCC) will start making payments that could total hundreds of millions of dollars annually into a fund for affordable housing.

Melvin L. Watt, who oversees the companies as director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, instructed them today to start setting aside a portion of their revenue for the National Affordable Housing Trust Fund, the only source of U.S. housing money earmarked for the lowest-income families.

The fund has been empty since Congress created it in 2008 because Watt’s predecessors said the financial condition of Fannie Mae (FNMA) and Freddie Mac prevented them from making payments.

Tenants of Miami ‘slums’ seek better life

Tenants of Miami ‘slums’ seek better life

In a faded blue three-story apartment building in Liberty City, tenants place buckets on their beds and dressers to catch the deluge of water that falls inside when it rains.

Sometimes the ceilings don’t hold up. Early this year, inside a first-floor apartment, the bedroom ceiling fell on a sleeping 16-year-old and dislocated his neck.

One block north in another complex, inspectors say roaches inundate cabinets and that gaping holes decorate walls and ceilings. Farther south in Overtown, swaths of mold grow on apartment walls in two complexes at Northwest First Court and 17th Street.

The buildings are among nine properties in some of Miami’s poorest neighborhoods and are tied to a couple accused of running slums across the city and elsewhere in the country. Sewage leaks, crumbling staircases, and the flouting of basic local and state licenses have drummed up scores of violations, millions of dollars in fines and, now, a city lawsuit.

The Other Fannie and Freddie Lawsuit

Last year, a group led by the National Low-Income Housing Coalition sued Fannie's and Freddie's regulator, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, to lift the agency's suspension of mandatory funding to affordable housing programs. In a separate decision this week, a federal judge dismissed the lawsuit, citing standing and jurisdictional concerns. ...

Liberty City complexes plagued by neglect

Audra Wright’s large garden outside her Liberty City home yielded a bounty of fruits and vegetable for years – so much so that she figured she was able to cut her grocery bill in half for her and her three teenage sons.

But this summer, a broken sewage pipe from a neighboring apartment complex leaked waste into her garden, destroying the crop that she was counting on.

Florida's Forgotten Victims Of Foreclosure: Tenants

Sergio Palacios doesn't have the typical South Florida foreclosure story.

He doesn't live in a McMansion in some suburban subdivision. He wasn't tricked into a mortgage he couldn't afford. In fact, he doesn't own a home at all. He's a tenant. But for the last five months and counting, Palacios, an unemployed construction worker, has lived in his Liberty City apartment without running water.

Deutsche Bank filed a foreclosure suit against the property's owners in April. As Palacios and his roommate suffered through illness and joblessness, they have slipped out to friends' houses to drink and bathe when they could, and did without when they couldn't. ...

We Call These Projects Home

Public housing in this country is rapidly becoming endangered, and with it, the lives of low-income people. Public housing provides a safety net for the working poor and those on a fixed income, which is critical in today's housing market considering that as of 2008, there was no county in the U.S. where an individual working 40 hours a week at minimum wage could afford a one-bedroom apartment at fair market rent.

The state of public housing is the result of decades of bad policies, which has greatly impacted low-income communities, predominantly of color, throughout the country. This reality is uniquely portrayed in a recent report, We Call These Projects Home: Solving the Housing Crisis from the Ground Up, by the Right to the City Alliance (RTTC). ...

Renters Bullied by Owners Facing Foreclosure

All she had was 48 hours to clear out her belongings and vacate the house where she had lived for three years.

One day last September, Gladys Flores received an unexpected visit from the owner of the property she rented in Little Havana. She had not seen him for months. Flores had religiously deposited the $600 monthly rent. The landlord came to inform her that the house had been repossessed by the bank. ...