habitat_for_humanity_web.jpgFlorida International University

Habitat for Humanity plans to build as many as 150 homes for low- and moderate-income Liberty City residents as the non-profit builder launches its largest project ever in urban Miami-Dade County.

As part of the project, Habitat is waiving its $25 application fee until month's end, extended from the previous Sept. 30 deadline.

“There was such an outpouring of people that wanted to take advantage of the opportunity that we felt we should waive the fee for another month,” Joseph McDaniels of Habitat for Humanity of Greater Miami said. “There are a lot of families in need in Liberty City.”

The homes will be built in the area of Northwest 18th Avenue, between Dr. Martin Luther King  Jr. Boulevard (Northwest 62nd Steet) and Northwest 18th Street.

Funding for what Habitat calls its “Liberty City Shine Campaign” is coming in part from Citibank.

The project is part of Habitat's move into Miami's urban core. The organization has mostly been building homes in South Miami-Dade County.

It also marks the first time Broward County residents can apply for Habitat housing in Miami-Dade.

Habitat is also purchasing foreclosed homes and abandoned properties to be refurbished and sold and it is helping existing homeowners repair the exteriors of their houses for a $100 flat fee.

Applicants for Habitat programs are required to go through background checks and home visits and to help build the homes they’ll occupy.

Once accepted, they must attend homeowner workshops and invest “sweat equity” by helping to build other Habitat homes.

For Habitat, the Liberty City project presents new opportunities.

“We have only recently begun to work in Miami’s inner urban core,” McDaniels said. “It’s great that we have the chance to make an impact on an already existing community.”

The history of the 150 lots comprising Habitat’s current effort goes back to 1999, when Miami-Dade obtained a federal grant to redevelop the former Scott Carver housing projects.

Those developments were demolished but affordable housing planned for the site was never built and the county eventually donated the lots to Habitat.

“The county demolished a bunch of houses in the old Scott Carver projects and houses were supposed to be built in their place,” McDaniels said, “but a lot of money was spent without a lot  to show for it.”

The county also donated 52 other lots to Habitat and construction on those houses was completed in early 2008. The current project comes on the heels of that success.

For more information on Habit for Humanity housing, call 305-634-3628 or log on to http://www.miamihabitat.org.

Samantha Smith may be reached at ssmit034@fiu.edu.