Tenants who live in a Liberty City apartment building with leaky ceilings, moldy walls and toilets that don’t flush protested Friday morning to get the attention of Miami Commissioner Keon Hardemon.
They live at 6040 NW 12th Ave., a building city officials and tenants say is owned by a slumlord.
The protesters showed up at Miami City Hall to demand an apology from Hardemon, who represents Liberty City, for this statement he made to WLRN about their building’s living conditions:
Hardemon said while the city is suing the owner of the property, tenants also have a personal responsibility to get out.
Protesters chanted, "Where's the list?" They want Hardemon to show them a list of affordable and available apartments that are not owned by slumlords.
Gaynesha Williams, a tenant at 6040 NW 12 Ave., says she feels like Hardemon is placing blame on tenants who can’t afford to move anywhere else. She said if she could afford to move, she would. Last year, her 16-year-old son's bedroom ceiling caved in on him, injuring his neck.
“Where can you go for $752? [There's] the rent and the utilities,” says Williams. “A working single mom, where can she go?"
Hardemon was not in his city hall office. A staff member said the protesters can come back Jan. 27 for a meeting with the commissioner. But that didn’t satisfy them.
The protesters got into a van and drove to downtown Miami, where Hardemon was attending the swearing-in of Miami-Dade County Commissioner Jean Monestime as chairman.
“We need to embarrass him where he is,” said one protester.
When the protesters arrived, they ran into Hardemon as he was entering the Stephen P. Clark Government Center.
“I’m running late,” he told the residents as he quickly walked up the escalators.
He said he’d talk with them later.
Many of the residents said they could not wait for the commissioner to come back down in an hour or two. Some had doctor appointments; others couldn’t afford the expensive downtown parking rates.
Six-year-old Cordelia Addison was the youngest protester. She lives at 6040 NW 12 Ave., where she says her apartment has hairy mold and sometimes the bathtub overflows.
She said she’s disappointed she didn’t get to speak to Hardemon.
“I want to tell him he needs to fix them apartments,” she said.