Opa-locka Magnolia Housing redevelopment ‘Kick-off’ a circle of light changes the shape of ‘the triangle’

By Christina Gordon….

Former Mayor Joseph L. Kelley; City Manager Clarance Patterson; Opa-locka Commissioner Dorothy “Dottie” Johnson; Clarence Brown NSP; Willie Logan, Opa-locka Community Development Corporation; Deborah Irby and Commissioner Timothy Holmes (seated).

On Wednesday, October 6, 2010, amid the ceremonial speeches, the rain began to fade, permitting the sunlight to peer through the vanishing overcast, symbolic of the Renaissance that was about to occur in the “Triangle,” as Miami-Dade County District 1 Commissioner Barbara J. Jordan announced plans for a brighter day through the Redevelopment Project “Kick-Off” that will, in approximately two years,  result in the construction of twenty-six (26) new affordable Habitat for Humanity single family homes for qualifying residents earning $18,000 – $40,000, and possess the ability to help build their own homes in the Magnolia North area of the City of Opa-locka.

“This will soon be the American Dream of Homeownership,” commented Jordan, as current and past members of the City Commission, representatives from Habitat for Humanity, residents, County and City staff, along with other supporters gathered during The Magnolia North Demolition Ceremony for the housing redevelopment located at 2105 Washington Avenue, Opa-locka 33054.

“We have to have great patience to get to the desired end,” stated former Mayor Joseph L. Kelley about what is being termed the rebirth of the old Triangle area. The project began in 2006, when Miami-Dade County passed three pieces of legislation aimed at renovating and revitalizing boarded and abandoned homes in “the Triangle.” As Part one of the City’s makeover, the County provided $1.2 million in Surtax funding for the County’s Opa-locka Home Rehabilitation Program, allowing low-income residents to receive up to $30,000 in loans to repair their homes.  Part Two of the initiative set aside another $1.97 million of County Surtax to fund the Opa-locka Beautification Program where residents are offered the opportunity gain funding to paint and perform landscaping. Part Three was the start of the demolition to dilapidated – public housing units and detached home sites and construction of the 26 properties. “The Progress is on-going,” Kelley added.

In partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Greater Miami, Inc., a locally based and nationally renowned not-for-profit, Miami-Dade County worked tirelessly to implement a rebuilding plan. The County assisted Habitat in assembling land through its Department of Housing and Community Development, with the County providing a total of $72,500 in Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) funds for the demolition and clearing of the sites. The County received $62.2 million from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) under Title III of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008, for the NSP to go toward eligible activities. Of the total budget, $600,000 was set-aside for demolition of blighted structures. The City of Opa-locka then identified blighted structures for demolitions and is working with several organizations, including Habitat for Humanity of Greater Miami, Inc, to construct affordable housing, such as the Magnolia North Redevelopment Program. The County is working with The City of Opa-locka and several other cities to demolish such structures, as part of its redevelopment strategy.

Habitat for Humanity, known for transforming lives and communities by providing low-income families with affordable homeownership opportunities, builds and renovates decent homes, financing the costs with 0% interest loans. Habitat is expecting to create this opportunity for the 26 low-income families through this public-private partnership with Miami-Dade County and the City of Opa-locka. The construction is expected to begin in 2011.

As the umbrellas were lowered and the sun continued to peep from behind the departing clouds, former Mayor of Opa-locka and State Representative Willie Logan, who heads The Opa-locka Community Development Corporation (OLCDC) rejoiced, “A New day is coming!” OLCDC is an active participant in the revitalization of the City’s neighborhoods and, as a member of the Miami-Dade Consortium which received NSP II funds, is providing financing for this activity.

With input from “an entire village” going into renovating the community, the objective is to create an environment where the sunlight will always shine on the NEW Magnolia North. An area that will “not just survive, but thrive!”  Commission members believe that the redevelopment project will “change the face of this entire community … beginning one house at a time!”

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