They're fighting for their rights in Village West
I asked Renescha what they were trying to gain by their protest. She told me, "We want the city to enforce their laws. Stop allowing us to live in squalor while we pay rent. Make them keep up the properties. Don't just evict people who have been paying you rent for years." Kathy has been working to help the West Grove neighbors for quite some time. You'll recognize them both from City Commission and other meetings.
|Willie Scott on the corner of Grand and Douglas.|
A few years back, the solution to development in Village West was to knock down the buildings and relocate the residents to Florida City, if I remember correctly. Well, those buildings that were knocked down are empty lots now and I'm not quite sure what happened to the residents, but if someone lives in Coconut Grove, they don't wish to be relocated to Florida City.
|Hannah Curry and Renescha Coats|
Village West is historic. Families have lived there for generations. These residents are desperate.
|Ken Russell spends the night.|
At this point, over 100 eviction notices have gone out.
What about fines for the slumlords and funding for temporary housing and moving for those being evicted? That's Commissioner Ken Russell above, who spent the night in a tent with the protesters on Sunday night. If the city refuses to abide by its own laws, then I think the residents need to be accommodated in some way.
County Commissioner Xavier Suarez asks, "Will the city be filing any more actions for injunctive relief? I should add that my role and that of my staff has been to find temporary residences for the tenants evicted,"
He says his office has placed all but a handful of tenants from one building.
"In the long run, our effort is to build affordable housing for at least a few hundred residents in the West Grove. By affordable housing I mean what is actually termed 'very low income' housing, of the kind we have envisioned using government-owned land, non-profit developers, waiver of on-site parking, and insurance subsidies. (Note that the model is not new in the city; we did just that in Melrose and Rio Plaza, each of which sold for around $400 PITI.) If we can add tax abatements, I believe small units can be built and sold/rented for $500-600/month using conventional financing," said Commissioner Suarez.
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