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'We want to protect affordability': YWCA proposes housing on Overtown campus

The YWCA Intergenerational Center in Miami Gardens.
The Miami Times
The YWCA Intergenerational Center in Miami Gardens.

YWCA South Florida’s Overtown headquarters at 351 NW Fifth St., which offers education, wellness and economic resources to women and families, could soon transform into a mixed-use and mixed-income housing development.

The 104-year-old organization with a mission to eliminate racism and empower women requested modifications to its land deed in a city of Miami resolution – which was approved by commissioners last month – to redevelop its Overtown campus as well as land owned by the South Florida Community Land Trust to its north.

“We know that affordable, safe, dignified – inspirational even – homes that families can feel really proud of being there ... and aren’t spending exorbitant amounts of money on has become almost obsolete in South Florida,” Kerry-Ann Royes, YWCA South Florida CEO, told The Miami Times. “Land is scarce. Property is scarce. The major drivers that we know are making women and working families successful are housing and child care. This is our opportunity to respond today to what we feel is a growing crisis for working families and women.”

YWCA’s deed amendment request will go before the Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners for approval.

“What that (city agenda) item did, is it provided us the flexibility to deliver on part of the reason why we were given the land in the first place,” said Royes, who explained that providing housing has been part of her organization’s mission from the start.

“We trust that it will also pass pretty quickly in the county because it really isn’t deviating from anything that was in the original deed,” she continued.

Royes says that because the proposed project is still in its preliminary stages, she couldn’t provide the total number of units to be built by Trè Bèl Procida Development Group, how much the development would cost, or specify how many units would be earmarked for affordable and workforce housing.

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The amendment was approved by the city of Miami on the condition that 50% of all residential units would be reserved for tenants earning up to 120% of the Area Median Income. According to Miami-Dade County’s metrics, that would be a household income of about $136,200 for a family of four or $95,400 for a one-person household.

“This is like any other (housing) project. We want to protect affordability and that’s going to be a priority,” said Royes. “We want to make sure families can actually afford to live in these spaces and that workforce can live there.”

In addition to residential units, the development will retain YWCA offices and all services currently provided on-site, such as financial literacy resources, after-school programs, tech labs, entrepreneurship support, maternal and child health education, child care, early childhood education programs, educational facilities, job training and soft skills development courses through an expanded partnership with CareerSource.

It will also feature green space and social areas for gatherings.

When asked whether YWCA will welcome commercial use of the property, Royes said: “Everything will be intentional. We’re talking to our local community, our CRA, our Overtown residents, downtown Miami and in-between residents to see what the community really needs. We’re not just going to build commercial spaces just to build. It’s going to have to be missioncentric.”

Royes told The Miami Times she could not provide us with renderings until the organization has held meetings with stakeholders and community members to discuss the proposed construction plans and building design.

Revenue generated from the project will be used to support YWCA programming.

YWCA says it has plans for a similar development in Miami Gardens, a predominantly Black city where the organization’s Intergenerational Center is located, but additional details were not provided.

This story was produced by Miami Times, South Florida’s oldest Black-owned newspaper, as part of a content sharing partnership with the WLRN newsroom. The reporter can be reached at jcharles@miamitimesonline.com.

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