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'There Is Nothing Like Being In Your Own Place': Overtown Families Return Home For The Holidays

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Natu Tweh
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Overtown resident Karla Colon directs movers in her new home.

No one likes being away from home — and that sentiment is even stronger during the holidays. Some families in Miami returned to new homes in a familiar environment.

After being away for a year, longtime Town Park Plaza South resident Karla Colon was in her new home, directing the movers placing her furniture.

Originally from Honduras, she’s been living in Town Park Plaza South for almost 20 years. When asked what changes she was excited about, she simply said:

"Everything!"

Forty-five families returned to their newly renovated homes in Overtown after a year of being temporarily relocated.

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Pauline Brathwaite has lived here for more than 30 years. She is on the Town Park Plaza South association’s board of directors.

"I’m happy to see families coming back to decent and affordable living," she said. "And my task has always been to make sure this construction was done the way I visualized it happening to other people in other communities."

Brian Zeltsman is the director of architecture and development for the Southeast Overtown and Park West CRA. He says that they want to keep these long-standing residents, which is part of the effort to avoid gentrification.

"These families are coming back to a familiar layout and a familiar neighborhood and a familiar unit, but it’s a brand new unit," said Miami Commissioner Jeffrey Watson. "There is nothing like being in your own place."

The complex is in his district. He sponsored the recent emergency ordinance that helped move the families in just in time for the holidays.

"No one wants to live in a mansion if they can afford it. But what they would like to do is live in quality housing because that's what they believe they deserve and if they desire to do it, then we’re going to help them get that done," Watson said.

Resident Karla Colon is thankful to everyone who fought to save and remodel the units.

"I’m so happy, I’m glad to be back home after a year now."