SFCDC members work on a variety of strategies to strengthen neighborhoods, including developing affordable housing for ownership and rental, providing homebuyer education and foreclosure prevention counseling, providing training and lending to small business owners, creating jobs, and participating in local government planning processes.
Community Development: A Bridge to Opportunity
Community development uses tools like homebuyer education, supportive housing, and support for small business owners to help families achieve their dreams and neighborhoods grow stronger. Hear the stories of three South Florida families bridging the gap with the help of local community development organizations.
Profiles of member activities
- Foreclosure prevention: Neighborhood Housing Services of South Florida
- Economic development strategies: 79th Street Corridor Initiative
- Rehabilitating foreclosed homes: Opa-locka Community Development Corporation
- Financial coaching: United Way Center for Financial Stability
- Rental housing development: St. John Community Development Corporation
- Neighborhood revitalization: Habitat for Humanity of Greater Miami
For more information on the goals and strategies of community development, see What is community development?
For community developers who have worked for years to help low and moderate income families build their assets and move into stable homeownership and to help create and maintain viable neighborhoods, the foreclosure crisis has threatened to roll back years of progress. As defaults and foreclosures continue to roll through communities in South Florida, Neighborhood Housing Services of South Florida (NHSSF) is working family by family to help keep people in their homes and to preserve the property values and livability of neighborhoods. In 2010, NHSSF foreclosure prevention counselors worked with 1,200 clients from Miami-Dade and Broward Counties facing foreclosure, and helped 518 of them stay in their homes.
NHSSF has been offering foreclosure prevention services since 2008. In March 2010, it partnered with Fannie Mae to open the first Mortgage Help Center, the first of six Help Centers across the country, with additional Help Centers expected to open this year. A homeowner who received assistance at the Mortgage Help Center, Diana Dolphin, told her story: “I fell behind on my mortgage last year after my salary was reduced just as I began repaying my student loans. As a single mother, I was terrified of losing my home. The Help Center staff worked with me to find an affordable solution for my family, and thanks to their help, we are able to stay in our home.” Even for those who are not able to keep their home, Center staff may be able to help clients sell their property and avoid the damage to their own credit and to a neighborhood’s property values caused by foreclosure.
April 7, 2011
This month, the 79th Street Corridor Initiative will make major strides to spur economic development and neighborhood revitalization in Liberty City around the 79thStreet corridor. The Initiative recognizes that to have the greatest possible impact on the economy of the neighborhood, it must not only support local small businesses, but also advocate for large-scale economic tools provided by the public sector.
The Initiative has facilitated public sector support by leading the process of developing a new land use and zoning ordinance for the area. According to the Initiative’s Executive Director, Ron Butler, land use and zoning are critical tools for economic change, because they allow a community to plan for the kind of development it wants and to ensure that new projects that fit the community. The new land use and zoning ordinances will better utilize the area’s land resources by creating green space and more recreation areas, as well as designating areas for commerce. At the end of March, Miami-Dade County will hold a community meeting to review the revised land use and zoning plan, the last step before taking the revised plan to the County Commission.
The Initiative is also in the final stages of a three-year process to establish a Community Revitalization Agency (CRA) for the 79th Street corridor. The Initiative encouraged the County to complete a study of the area. With the input received during several community meetings, the Initiative and its partners helped write a community redevelopment plan. Once a board of directors is created, the CRA will implement tax increment financing, which will fund various reconstruction projects outlined in the plan.
As Butler explains, the 79th Street corridor is a “diamond in the rough.” Once these economic tools are in place, Butler believes, “You’ll see the community take off.”
March 9, 2011
Last week, Opa-locka Community Development Corporation (OLCDC) celebrated the completion of the first single-family home in Miami-Dade County purchased and rehabilitated with funding from Neighborhood Stabilization Program 2 (NSP2). The new homeowners, Melanio Rojas and Maria Esperanza De Leon, were there to cut the ribbon along with OLCDC staff and representatives of US HUD, the City of Opa-locka, and Miami-Dade County. OLCDC is a member of the Miami-Dade NSP2 Consortium, a group of six non-profits and one local municipality that were awarded $89,375,000 in federal funds to redevelop foreclosed and vacant properties into housing opportunities that are affordable to low and moderate income families. The funds are administered by the Consortium’s lead agency, Neighborhood Housing Services of South Florida. With a share of funds, OLCDC is working to rehabilitate 83 homes in historic Opa-locka and help families qualify to purchase those homes.
OLCDC believes that recapturing the vacant properties in Opa-locka is critical to the revitalization of the community, and will not only provide affordable housing for dozens of families, but will also improve market conditions in the area. By focusing rehabilitation efforts on a small area, the neighboring communities of Magnolia North and Magnolia Gardens, they are able to concentrate the effects of increased housing values.
OLCDC’s vision for the neighboring communities of Magnolia North and Magnolia Gardens goes beyond renovating buildings. According to founder and president Willie Logan, OLCDC is working with partners to foster comprehensive revitalization of the area. Though OLCDC has long offered their services to this area, this is the first time they have been able to marshal the resources and work with a variety of partners to do multi-faceted community development work. In addition to renovating single-family and multi-family buildings, OLCDC is hiring and training local residents to work on the renovations, and offering home rehab and landscaping programs to current homeowners. The City of Opa-locka has committed to improving the streetscape in the area, and Habitat for Humanity of Greater Miami is building homes on land formerly occupied by derelict public housing.
February 3, 2011
In October of 2009, the United Way Center for Financial Stability opened its doors to provide working families and individuals with financial coaching and a range of accompanying services to help them achieve economic success and independence. By working with thirteen partner organizations, the Center provides services such as free tax preparation, benefits enrollment, employment assistance, and credit counseling. South Florida Urban Ministries, a member of SFCDC, operates the Center at its facility in northwest Miami-Dade.
In its first year, the Center served 697 individuals and families, providing 97 with the support to create financial stability plans. One of those families was Glory-Lynn, her husband, and their two young daughters. When Glory-Lynn first came to the Center, she was unemployed, her husband’s income had been reduced by almost half, and they had received a final notice on their light bill. She was under a lot of stress and very depressed about her situation. The Center was able to help her with the light bill which prevented her lights being shut off. A financial coach helped her create a family budget and develop an action plan to look for employment. Eventually, Glory-Lynn found a job as a teacher again. Their family budget is now more stable and they are able to afford the reduction to her husband’s paycheck.
In the coming year, South Florida Urban Ministries is planning to expand its services for small business owners and to introduce Ways to Work, a loan program that combines financial coaching and credit repair with low-interest car loans for parents with damaged credit.
Jan 5, 2011
Last Friday, a gathering of city and county officials, representatives of HUD, property owners, and community residents watched as David J. Alexander, President/CEO of St. John Community Development Corporation, cut a red ribbon in front of a decaying apartment building, marking the beginning of renovations on the St. John Village 1410 Apartments. This project is the first to deploy funds from the Miami-Dade NSP2 Consortium, a group of six non-profits and one local municipality that were awarded $89,375,000 in federal funds to redevelop foreclosed and vacant properties into housing opportunities that are affordable to low and moderate income families. The project is also funded by an allocation of NSP 1 funds from the City of Miami.
Once it is fully renovated, inside and out, the building will provide 26 rental units to residents who earn 50% or less of the area median income. According to Alexander, the renovation involves completely gutting the building, down to the concrete blocks and steel beams. Through a LEED-certified rehabilitation process, systems including plumbing, roofing, and electrical will be replaced. The restored building will include hurricane-proof windows, central air-conditioning, more green space, and enhanced security measures, including a security lighting system powered by solar energy.
Built in the late 1950’s, the building has now stood vacant for over two and a half years. Alexander is excited about the effect this redevelopment project will have on the surrounding neighborhood. “This is a perfect illustration of the purpose and intent of the Neighborhood Stabilization Program. The building occupies a prominent corner on 14th Street, which is the main commercial corridor between the Performing Arts Center and the hospital district. This is the first building you see when you enter Overtown.” Property owners across the railroad tracks from St. John Village 1410 Apartments look forward to the improvements increasing the value of their own properties. Said Alexander, “Our intention is to turn an eyesore into a landmark.”
November 4, 2010
Habitat for Humanity of Greater Miami, an SFCDC member, has launched Liberty City Shine, a campaign to revitalize Liberty City through the transformative power of home ownership. This initiative includes several Habitat programs: the construction of new homes on vacant lots donated by Miami-Dade County; Habitat’s Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative, which will use federal stimulus monies (NSP2) to purchase vacant land and foreclosed and abandoned properties within six Liberty City census tracts; Habitat’s “A Brush With Kindness” program, designed to refurbish the damaged exterior of homes already owned by low-income families; and a partnership with the Dade Heritage Trust to restore historic houses in the area.
In its 20-year existence, Miami Habitat has built over 100 homes in the Liberty City area. Through the Liberty City Shine campaign, the organization aims to build or refurbish 255 homes within the next three years. Currently, 49 low income families have been matched to future Liberty City Shine homes. Miami Habitat continues to receive applications each month, but qualified applicants are still needed. Families in need of a decent, affordable home can find an application and more information at the link below.
Oct 7, 2010