Thanks for bringing attention to the tragic underbelly of gentrification in Miami.
At South Florida Voices for Working Families, we have been assisting the residents of Little Farm mobile home park since January and fighting for affordable housing in Miami-Dade for the past 15 years. These most recent evictions are emblematic of the treatment of homeowners in mobile home parks, the only nonsubsidized affordable housing in Miami-Dade. A few points of clarification:
The majority of the residents at Little Farm own their own homes, pay taxes and vote. Their monthly rent is better described as a property fee paid to the landowner to rent the land under their homes. Renters pay rent to the mobile home owner, not the property owner.
Most of those evicted last week were homeowners who were purposely misled by the site manager, an employee of the new owner, Wealthy Delight, in order to clear the property. They were told not to pay their rent because the park is closing and were refused payment plans for ballooning arrears, some of which was accrued under former trailer owners; or the payments were refused outright.
Once evicted, homeowners forfeit title to their homes, receive no direct compensation and are ineligible for compensation from state funds or any relocation funding from El Portal or Wealthy Delight.
El Portal Village Manager Jason Walker denies that residents were misled by Wealthy Delight and refuses to accept that poor planning by the Village Council has led to this crisis. Council members recently rezoned the property for mixed-use and are considering more changes.
Funding exists to help create incentives for successful projects that both increase the village tax base and provide affordable homes. Village Manager Jason Walker says that, to date, Wealthy Delight has not responded to meeting requests from the Village Council and mayor, nor does he have any idea what Wealthy Delight will build. This passive approach to developers must change.
Without forward thinking, all of Miami is a potential Little Farm waiting to happen. We can do better.
South Florida Voices for Working Families, Miami