The Chairman of Homeless Trust responded to Cutler Bay residents who complained about the low-cost housing project at La Quinta Inn.
A number of residents oppose new proposed plans to turn the hotel into low-income housing and had a chance to express their concerns at a Townhall on Wednesday.
They touched on a variety of topics including traffic concerns and marketplace impact. Homeless Trust Chairman Ron Book responded to virtually every question and concern.
“A lot of people had opportunities to acquire all these lands, and they haven’t done it,” Book said. “We’re here and we’re here now.”
Several residents also referred to the project as a shelter — which Book was quick to correct, emphasizing more than once, that the project is not a homeless shelter.
“The reason we need housing down here, is that there are people that are homeless or formerly homeless down here who want to rent property where their other family members are – and this is but a reasonable, sensitive alternative to that,” Book explained.
Other residents complained of more traffic in the area, but Book ensured them that many residents will either be disabled or elderly; therefore, not likely able to work. He added that those who do work will largely use the transit system to get to where they need to go.
Chairman Book also addressed questions about the prioritization of veterans — saying in part, “We are the first community in the U.S. to reach an end to veterans’ homelessness.”
There were concerns about the behavior of potential future residents.
“Our units are not available to the rest of the public,” Book said. “Our rental units are supply and demand for those who were formerly homeless – people who have been accessed, people who have been evaluated and people who are suitable for the housing.”
Some concerned residents raised the question of how rent would be priced and what that would do to the marketplace. Book ensured that the project would not negatively affect the area’s value.
“What I won’t do is cheat the community. What I won’t do is allow our building to bring down your values,” Book stated. “The values with what they are now, we will be an enhancement. I promise you that. “