You've got Mold LowT Gimenez

Miami Herald:

In a neglected Miami housing tower, residents told to move but don’t know where to go

  • Health emergency tied to widespread mold contamination and floors laden with asbestos.

A leaky air conditioner forces Gladys Portela to mop her tile floor before visitors arrive at her 14th-floor apartment in Miami’s Harry Cain Tower, one more problem in a public housing complex that’s been declared too broken down to fix.

Five years after residents voted down a Miami-Dade proposal to move to a different building so that Cain could be redeveloped, Portela and more than 100 neighbors are being forced to clear out under a health emergency tied to widespread mold contamination and floors laden with asbestos.

“When I moved here it was a perfect place to live,” said Portela, 60, from the center of her $178-a-month efficiency in the building that opened in 1984.

Now the Cuban-born vice president of the building’s tenant council can’t predict where she’ll move next. Miami-Dade’s housing agency notified residents Wednesday that it had to close the county-run Harry Cain Tower over health concerns. The county promised to help residents find subsidized apartment in the private market and offer counseling, cover moving expenses, utility hook-ups and pay for deposits at the new apartments.

A wall is covered with mold in an apartment in Harry Cain Tower in downtown Miami, on Friday, September 20, 2019. SAM NAVARRO SPECIAL FOR THE MIAMI HERALD

Funded by the Overtown anti-blight tax zone, known as the Community Redevelopment Agency, the project isn’t scheduled to be ready until 2022. That leaves residents reliant on the Section 8 program for their next homes as Miami-Dade begins the process of vacating Harry Cain.

“It’s hard on me to move now,” said Lizzie Mae Hannah, 61, during an interview in the community room, where ceiling tiles sag from water damage. “I don’t know much about Section 8.”

The vouchers cover a portion of a tenant’s monthly rent, and Miami-Dade says it has agreements covering about 6,000 units that should give Harry Cain residents some options. Portela said she’s already run into landlords who don’t want to deal with the paperwork. “When you tell the owner ‘I have Section 8,’ ” Portela said, “they refuse you.”

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