How the Southeast Overtown/ Park West Community Redevelopment Agency (SEOPW CRA) is making the city a better place to live
Keon Hardemon – Chairman, Miami City Commission – Chairman, SEOPW CRA
What are Overtown’s current major needs and how is the CRA and the board overall addressing them?
The needs of the Overtown community varies – affordable housing, infrastructure, and job training are the foundation. The CRA has invested millions into enhancing the quality-of-life. The agency is responsible for the creation of several new affordable housing developments, such as Island Living, Courtside Apartments and Plaza at the Lyric. In addition to creating new housing stock, the agency works to preserve existing structures. Town Park North, South and Village are housing communities that are recipients of the CRA’s rehabilitation grants that will restore and enhance the homes. This effort is intended to preserve homeownership within the community. In addition to housing, the CRA has also made investments in improving businesses. The restoration of Overtown’s historic Josephine and Dunn Hotel is an example of this effort. The formerly dilapidated structure will now operate as a bed and breakfast. We are taking community assets that were in disrepair, repairing them and providing destinations for visitors to come and experience Overtown. The development of the Overtown community also encompasses the development of its people. Here in the CRA, we have made a substantial amount of investment into job training for our residents. Programs such as Hospitality Employees Advancement and Training Inc. provide a curriculum for Food and Beverage, Culinary and Hotel Operations. This initiative will help to enhance resident’s ability to secure employment opportunities in South Florida’s growing industries.
What are Overtown’s plans for the workforce housing segment?
To me, workforce housing should be affordable housing because affordability is relative. Individuals such as our young attorneys, government employees, and educators struggle to pay market rate for housing. People who work, need an affordable place to live, that’s safe and appears in the same light as market-rate units. The CRA has plans to develop these types of properties. We have issued bonds that will generate funds to go towards developments. We also have financing that we are capturing money from through the development that’s happening with Moishe Mana in Wynwood. That will result in contributions upwards of $7 million. In the CRA, we are always looking at ways to involve new partners. Anytime we do a new development, we want to increase the number of housing units. The affordability part of the development, for the market and for the workforce is important to that mix.