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Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, An Investigation of Condo Certification, & Youth Homelessness

Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava speaks during a press conference after a building partially collapsed in Surfside, Fla.
Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava speaks during a press conference after a building partially collapsed in Surfside, Fla.

Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava speaks about Surfside, COVID-19 and Cuba. We discuss the South Florida Sun Sentinel's investigation into condo certification. And, representatives of the HOMY Collective talk about the issue of youth experiencing homelessness.

On this Thursday, July 15, edition of Sundial

Surfside and Cuba

Three weeks after the Surfside condo collapse — search crews are still in the rubble looking to recover and identify the remains of victims. Still, progress is being made, despite the weather delays.

Ninety seven people are confirmed dead. Seven of those still haven’t been identified and there’s still a list of eight people potentially unaccounted for.

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Several first responders working at the site of the Surfside collapse tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this month. Miami-Dade Commission Chairman Jose “Pepe” Diaz and his aide also tested positive. Diaz has been present at the site frequently.

“We had a lot of visiting rescue teams, and the outbreak was really confined to those teams,” Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said. She also recommended that people in Miami-Dade County continue to wear masks, although she said the county wouldn’t be requiring them.

Levine Cava attended a roundtable discussion about the protests in Cuba with many Cuban-American leaders on Wednesday.

“These are our brothers and sisters, our neighbors, our friends, co-workers. And it really hits home for us,” she said.

The Palmetto Expressway was blocked for a few hours by Cuban protesters earlier this week. Some argued that the demonstrations violated Florida's new anti-riot law.

"I want to be sure that people are allowed to freely protest as long as it's peaceful," Levine Cava said.

07-15-2021 SUNDIAL SEG A MDC Mayor DLC-Surfside, COVID, Cuba.mp3
Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava is shown speaking to the media, flanked by FEMA administrator Deanne Criswell and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis Surfside at the scene of the building collapse in Surfside, on Sunday, June 27, 2021.

Condo Oversight

The Surfside tragedy has woken people up to the reality that there are a lot of condo buildings in South Florida that are aging and lacking oversight. The South Florida Sun Sentinel recently published an investigation with data showing how many condos in Palm Beach and Broward counties are more than 40 years old and have not been recertified.

According to Mario Ariza, one of the Sun Sentinel reporters involved in the investigation, only Miami-Dade and Broward counties require buildings that are at least 40 years old to go through the recertification process. However, Palm Beach County leaders are trying to change that.

"We wanted as complete a picture as possible of condo safety in South Florida," said Spencer Norris, one of the Sun Sentinel reporters who worked on the investigation.

Their reporting found 412 condo buildings, with 50 or more units, that were more than 40 years old in Broward County. In Palm Beach County there were 483 of those buildings.

According to their reporting, Broward County sends out a report every year to cities stating which buildings need to be recertified. Norris said in some cases, the cities would notify the buildings in question but wouldn't follow up if these buildings failed to complete the required recertification.

Since the Surfside tragedy, many condo buildings have rushed to complete their recertifications.

"There's been a spasm of enforcement,” Ariza said.

07-15-2021 SUNDIAL SEG B Condo Certification.mp3
a view of the champlain towers south from the water

Youth Homelessness

Young people who don’t have a place to sleep are some of the most vulnerable in our society. Youth homelessness is on the rise in the United States and the pandemic only made things worse.

Wednesday, young leaders on this issue, from across Miami-Dade County, met for the HOMY Collective's annual summit — where they pitched ideas to help those who are experiencing homelessness.

Deandra Joseph, a member of the HOMY Collective's Youth Voice Action Council, is open about her experiences with homelessness. She recalled the lack of support she had regarding her situation.

“I was always in the library searching for resources, which I did not find,” she said.

She enrolled at Miami Dade College and says she finally received the support she needed. Now, she does outreach for youth experiencing homelessness so they can feel less alone.

At the 2021 HOMY Summit, Joseph pitched an idea for a 24-hour drop-in center, where young people experiencing homelessness could stop by and get food, access to Wi-Fi, and other services.

"Everyone deserves a safe and stable place to sleep," said Audrey Aradanas, the assistant director of programs for Miami Homes for All.

Aradanas also experienced housing insecurity as a young person and said she wants to prevent anyone from going through what she went through.

07-15-2021 SUNDIAL SEG C Youth Homelessness.mp3

Kristin Moorehead is a 2021 WLRN summer intern and recent graduate of the University of Florida with a B.S. in Telecommunication.