Thursday, September 28, 2006

Community Redevelopment and Moderate Income Housing

The old Federal Highway, U.S. 1, winds it's way through the northern part of Miami-Dade County now sporting the name Biscayne Blvd. as it passes through Miami, Miami Shores, North Miami, North Miami Beach, and the scattered bits and pieces of unincorporated county in between. There used to be lots of little trailer parks and tourist cabins dating from the 1930's and '40's, but there's little left of them now. Even many of the motels that replaced them in the following decades have made way for shopping malls and office buildings. Still, here and there, are reminders of the earlier era.

Recently the City of Miami has been rocked by a scandal where tens of millions of dollars have dissapeared, money that was supposed to be used for "moderate income housing". It vanished! Nothing built. Just a web of deals and grants and contracts between this developer and that, many with ties to various political types of the sort that award the contracts. Strangely, some of these developers have suddenly been able to build themselves multi-million dollar homes and offices in the nicer parts of town. The poor people in many cases don't even have the now razed buildings in which they once lived.

I noticed this collection of partially gutted cabins and fire damaged main building at 109th Street, about a mile south of the North Miami city limit and thought what a great tongue-in-cheek photo essay this would make about the fictional North Miami Redevelopment Agency. I tried to get city councilman Scott Galvin to visit the site, envisioning him in suit and tie carrying a clip board as he made notes, but we couldn't schedule the time when we both were free. Then James Mitchell showed up in Miami, so he and I went exploring the place. I suppose I could still write about "Visiting Washington, D.C. official on government contract examines nearly rehabbed moderate income housing" but after checking the place over Monkey said "No way!". Monkey's the boss!


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