COW

Homestead City Council sitting as the Board of the Community Redevelopment Authority (CRA) approved the 2021-2022 budget of $6,777,220. This is nearly $2.5 million larger than last year’s budget due to the addition of unused funds from last year.

After acceptance by Council, this budget is submitted to Miami-Dade County for approval.

CRA director Kametra Driver broke the budget down as $3.9 million for projects, $912,112 for programs, $600,361 in employee costs, $883,434 for administration, and $459,396 in other costs.

The Director gave an overview of the agency’s 2021-2022 budgeted programs and projects:

- Two community police officers & a Code Compliance officer for $350,831

- First time home buyers program at $200,000

- Business incentive programs of $500,000

- Small business grants costing $150,000

- Redevelopment grants of $250,000

- Shotgun Houses Neighborhood improvements of $75,000

- Public improvements of $240,000 plus two inmate litter crews for $87,500

- Flagler Avenue clean-up budgeted for $500,000

- Blight removal and demolition at $60,000

- Homestead LIVE programming for $200,000

- Seminole Theatre budget of $473,781

Before budget adoption, Mayor Steve Losner made the suggestion to add funding to assist existing businesses besides encouraging new business.

Director Driver said funds could be moved around to accommodate that goal.

The Neighborhood New Homes Initiative presented its first phase to Council as a new CRA project. Four vacant, buildable lots in the southwest area were identified for single-family homes to be sold to first-time homebuyers with limited income. Qualified buyers also get help with closing costs and down payments under the program.

The CRA chose Minority Builders Coalition from five responding developers to build homes under program terms. The company has extensive experience partnering with government agencies on new home construction. Council said they were impressed with the four models available for the lots, in size and amenities, at competitive prices. Identified buyers are allotted an additional $5,000 for upgrades.

CRA emphasized that proceeds from home sales would be reinvested in the neighborhood through community services. The developer also plans to open a Homestead office to offer training and assistance to area small businesses.

Council approved the CRA property conveyance on seven properties known as “the triangle lot” adjacent to City land and parallel to the busway. The County approved the CRA’s plan in 2020 to hold the land as a future commercial corridor by adding deed restrictions approved by Council July 20, 2021.

CRA proposed to fund the Miami Urban Contemporary Experience (MUCE) for $50,000, as a way to use “cultural arts as a critical component of economic development”. The Southwest Neighborhood Renaissance would be kicked off with performing and visual arts programs at SW 4th Street and Railroad Avenue.

MUCE plans a ‘soft launch’ of their experience complete with a kids’ zone and use of ‘heritage connector’ programming on December 3 during Miami Art Week. The CRA grant offsets part of the estimated $63,450 cost of the launch.

Council approved the CRA’s proposed expenditure of $34,500 to commission a digital app for Losner Park. The proposal is an artistic ‘augmented reality’. The app would be available on any user’s cellphone, of digital art sculptures based on existing features around the park playground, Everglades Garden, and the Veterans Memorial area of the Park.

Two other CRA agenda items identified four vacant properties for purchase in the southwest neighborhood adjacent to City-owned land or with the potential for future program development. These agenda items were deferred, according to the Director, “to ensure the purchase price aligns with the arket and the appraisals”.

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