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El Portal Offers Housing Assistance To Soon To Be Displaced Trailer Park Residents

Nadege Green
El Portal hosted a relocation meeting for residents of the Little Farm trailer park on Oct. 5

Residents of the Little Farm trailer park filed into El Portal Village Hall for a meeting Monday on how to find affordable housing options and other resources to move out.

The trailer park was sold earlier this year to Wealthy Delight’s LLC, a Coral Gables-based company. The new landowner gave residents a February deadline to leave the property.

Yolande Dorce, a 30-year resident of the trailer park, said she pays $450 a month to lease the land. She owns her trailer outright, but it can’t be moved and will likely be demolished.

Dorce, 65,  has to start over from scratch and she says with a monthly $700 disability check as her only income, she doesn’t know where she will go.

  “I’m looking every day.  I’m tired,” she said.

All of the apartments she found are more than $900 month, out of her price range.

Six different agencies including the Homeless Trust, Miami-Dade County Housing and Legal Services of Greater Miami were on  hand to talk to Little Farm residents about the services they provide.

Dorce, who was looking for affordable housing options that don’t exceed $500 a month, spent some time talking to the  Miami-Dade housing representatives.

Jamaal Williams, an intake manager for the county’s Section 8 voucher program, briefed her about the process.

Later, in an interview with WLRN, White said the Section 8 voucher program probably won’t help the residents of Little Farm who have to move out by February.

There are more than 51,000 people on the waiting list and the county isn’t accepting any new applicants. The placement process has a seven-year backlog.

“Currently we are pulling people who applied in 2008,” he said.

Some of the residents were given cards for the homeless helpline. In the event they are evicted and have nowhere to go, they may qualify to stay in a homeless shelter for up to 60 days. There was also information about applying for emergency food stamps and how to keep children  who might end up homeless in the schools they currently attend.

Village Manager Jason Walker said the relocation meeting was a start to get residents connected to the agencies that can help guide them and provide support as they prepare to move out.

“We’re a small municipality,  so our resources are limited to assist these people,” he said.

Credit Nadege Green / WLRN
Village manager Jason Walker introduces a panel of representatives from social service agencies at a relocation meeting for Little Farm residents Oct. 5.

Walker said the village has asked the developer to extend the February deadline to June and is awaiting a response. He also said the council  is looking into a relocation stipend for the families. The  stipend would come from a $575,000 code enforcement settlement the village received from the new landowner, he said.

Former El Portal Mayor Daisy Black said the village’s relocation efforts are coming too late. A first deadline to move out of the trailer park by Oct. 1 has already passed. Many Little Farm residents have already left on their own or have been evicted for nonpayment of rent.

“My concern is these people are being pushed out,” she said. “Most of them will be homeless.”

Mario Cardona, 46, has lived in the trailer park for 15 years. He said finding an affordable place seems to be out of reach even with the information he received from the social service agencies.

He flipped through a Miami-Dade housing pamphlet he picked up at the relocation meeting. In it were some of the more attractive places to live in Miami-Dade based on the local economy, crime rates and schools. The list included Pinecrest, Coral Gables and Westchester.

Cardona can’t afford to live in any of those neighborhoods.

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