South Florida nonprofits create affordable housing co-op in Miami

title=

Pastor Gaston Smith, left, announces as State Representative James Bush III unveils in June 2022 what the new Soul of Miami Avenue sign will look like in Liberty City.

[email protected]

In an effort to address Miami-Dade County’s housing affordability crisis, two Miami nonprofits recently formed the Housing and Healing Justice Corps affordable housing cooperative.

The co-op was started by Struggle for Miami’s Affordable & Sustainable Housing and Women with Broken Heals and it currently operates a five-bedroom “transitional” home in Miami’s Liberty City neighborhood. The property has an urban garden, a workspace and a conference room for the use of residents.

The monthly rent for the co-op’s first house is $700 and includes electricity, water and internet services. To move in, no deposit is required. Residents can live in the building for a year or more depending on their needs and must volunteer in the community at least four hours a week.

Activist and Hialeah native Eromias Vall, 27, has been one of the residents for five months. Before moving into the Liberty City Co-op, Vall struggled to find an affordable home. Vall appreciates how the team behind the co-op has helped by donating a bed and providing emotional support.

“I liked it because I love community and I think community is necessary,” Vall said. “Part of the program is to dedicate four hours a week to helping the organization by canvassing and doing general volunteering.”

Adrian Alberto Madriz, executive director of the affordable and sustainable housing nonprofit, said the co-op is the first of its kind in South Florida. The house was originally rented and opened to tenants in April. Now, the nonprofit team behind the co-op aims to raise $465,000 to buy the property.

“Miami is a very young city,” Madriz said. “A lot of it has been based on the idea of ​​paradise that I can own for myself and no one else. That kind of mentality is why I think those community values ​​have taken longer to s to implant.

The City of Miami has a special fund for non-profit organizations so that they have a line of credit to support the existence of the cooperative. Paying off that loan is a short-term priority, he said.

Eventually, the nonprofits want the entity to become a limited-capital cooperative that would allow tenants to buy a share of the house.

Andrea Mercado, executive director of Florida Rising, a housing advocacy group in Florida, believes affordable housing is a right every Floridian should have and sees the co-op as an important intervention challenging the community to think about what it should look like. the future of housing. She said political tensions in Tallahassee have made housing affordability much more difficult for Florida residents.

“We’ve had 20 years of Republican control in Tallahassee impeding and plundering our affordable housing fund and refusing to take action on affordability,” Mercado said. “They actually limit what county commissions and municipal authorities can do.”

With the Housing Justice and Healing Affordable Housing Cooperative, the nonprofit founding partners want to support those most affected by the county’s affordability shortage, such as Black women and other people of color.

Broken Heals founder Trenise Bryant said it was important to have a co-op building in Liberty City to provide a healing justice component to a community that has faced trauma related to violence and poverty. . The majority of members of the fight for sustainable housing group Miami live in Liberty City, Overtown, Little Haiti and Little Havana.

Those interested in more information about living in the co-op house can go online to https://smash.miami/smash-wbh-coop/ or call (786) 523-4734.

As the co-op plans this week’s fundraisers and programs to raise awareness, Vall is grateful to have found affordable housing in Miami.

“It’s a beautiful place,” he said of the co-op’s first house. “You can barely find that in Miami, if anything.”

Follow more of our stories on the housing affordability crisis

See all stories

Michael Butler writes about the residential and commercial real estate industry and local housing market trends. Like Miami’s diverse population, Butler, a graduate of Temple University, has both local roots and Panamanian heritage.

Virginia S. Braud