Friday, February 09, 2007

"ARREST THE DEVELOPERS---NOT OUR PEOPLE"



A confrontation taking place between housing activists and Miami cops ended on Thursday. Earlier at least a dozen police cars surrounded the site where the protest, organized by the Miami Workers Center, Low Income Families Fighting Together and former Scott-Carver residents, was taking place. Police shut down one block of Northwest 72nd Street between Northwest 22nd and 21st avenues near the building.

''Arrest the developers -- not our people,'' protesters shouted.

Miami has been suffering from a severe housing crisis due to city officials’ efforts at gentrification through the destruction of Black and Latino/a neighborhoods and giving away public land to erect condos for the new influx of richer, whiter residents. In one of the most blatant instances, Miami’s Hope VI Plan, which was meant to address the issue of low-income housing in Miami, actually ended up shutting down the Scott-Carver Project’s 851 units of public housing, replacing them with only 80 units.

Those driven from their homes were promised they would be given new homes. Despite spending$22 million in federal and local funds for affordable housing, only a
handful of Habitat for Humanity homes were built. Former residents and
community organizations have erected a wall at the last standing Scott
building as a way to remember the families who were displaced and as a part
of their struggle to bring back a loved community to the land where it once
stood.

The following article comes from the Miami Herald.

Standoff between police, housing protesters ends
BY MATTHEW I. PINZUR AND ERIKA BERAS
mpinzur@MiamiHerald.com

A daylong standoff between Miami-Dade police and affordable-housing activists ended abruptly Thursday when top county officials backed off arrest threats.

Many of the 25 to 30 protesters said they were willing to be charged with trespassing rather than allow the Miami-Dade Housing Agency to build a construction fence around the last remaining building of the old Scott-Carver public housing complex in Liberty City. They spent much of the day chanting slogans and standing in the way of workers erecting a chain-link fence around the four-unit building at 7155 NW 22nd Ave.

The lawn of the boarded-up complex has become a memorial and gathering place for residents who were displaced six years ago when the housing agency promised to relocate hundreds of them and later return them to new, affordable houses. But until recently, little has been built.

''This is part of my heritage,'' said Clyde Jackson, who stopped to join the protest on his way to work. ``There were a lot of fine folks here that went on to do something great with their lives: football players, lawyers.''

Last month, activists built a plywood wall on the lawn to list the names of hundreds of former Scott-Carver residents, some of whom they believe fell through the cracks of the troubled housing agency.

Newly hired housing director Kris Warren agreed to leave the wall, but said activists could not use the site as a meeting place because the building was dangerous -- lead paint on the walls, asbestos in the ceilings and possible structural damage. Demolition will not begin until at least next month, Warren said.

Warren said she notified activist groups Feb. 2 that the fence would be erected, prompting Thursday's protest. She also asked for a police presence. By late morning, more than two dozen officers had cordoned the property with yellow police tape and closed a one-block stretch of Northwest 72nd Street. Protesters were warned over a bullhorn that they would be arrested, and a paddy wagon was on the scene.

Workers drove metal poles into the ground and began wrapping them with fencing. Shortly after 3 p.m., an aide to Mayor Carlos Alvarez arrived and agreed with police and housing officials to remove the fence and not make arrests.

''There's no immediate plan at this point to escalate the situation,'' said Victoria Mallette, Alvarez's spokeswoman. ``We're trying to work together to make progress.''

Mallette said Thursday's activity does not signal a change in plans. ''At some time, that area is going to have to be fenced in for construction,'' she said. ``We need to move forward, and there needs to be progress.''

Protesters said the houses, which are already under construction on other parts of the property, will be far costlier than the run-down units being replaced.

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