Families displaced outside apartment building get Miami mayor’s attention

MIAMI (WSVN) - Residents who live at a South Florida apartment complex have been living in their cars after its buildings were deemed unsafe days after Irma.

These families have practically been homeless for more than a week, living in the parking lot across from the Civic Towers and Civic Towers for seniors buildings.

Miami City Mayor Tomas Regalado said he spoke with the building management and tried to encourage them to let the residents back into the building if it is safe but got nowhere.

Regalado said that if the residents can’t return to the apartment building located along Northwest 15th Avenue and 18th Street, they need to find a place for them to stay.

“We need help. We need help because we feel homeless,” said displaced resident Vladimir Padilla.

They’ve been waiting outside to get back inside, but the city closed the Section 8 housing and other supportive housing options in Miami after Hurricane Irma.

Twelve-year-old Kimberly Reyes is among the stranded. “It has been hard seeing everyone like this,” she said.

7News reached out to the city for answers on Monday, and then the mayor showed up Tuesday afternoon as did Miami-Dade County officials. They said it is the responsibility of the building’s owner and funding agencies to provide temporary housing.

“I don’t know what else we need to do for FEMA to respond,” Regalado said, “but the main blame is on the company that owns this building that is getting a lot, millions of dollars in taxpayer money so these people can have a decent life.”

Regalado said the company that owns the building should help the displaced residents. “What I want to see is that they use the money that they’re getting to pay for hotels for these people. That’s what needs to be done. That’s the right thing to do, and by the way, that’s in the contract.”

Redwood Housing said in a statement, “We are in frequent contact with the government and are working diligently on a recovery plan. Our team has also reached out to each and every resident and has helped residents apply for emergency assistance from FEMA.”

FEMA said they’re aware of this situation, and they’re encouraging residents to apply for housing assistance that could pay for rent or a hotel stay.

Some here said they already have reached out, and as they wait, volunteers have been bringing food, water, ice, clothing, police protection, air-conditioned busses, portable showers and toilets.

The Miami Heat stepped in, Tuesday, to hand out meals to the displaced residents. “They’re our biggest fans, and we want to support them the way they support us,” said Miami Heat Executive Director Steve Stowe.

The buildings were already undergoing renovations before the storm, but now there is no word on a re-entry date.

“I feel really upset sleeping in the street,” Padilla said. “This is not for me. This is not nice for me sleeping in the street with my family.”

The city said they offered to take residents to shelters, but only a few accepted because they wanted to stay closer to their belongings in the building.

Paramedics have showed up to the scene to make sure everyone stays safe while residing outside.

The management company, and the owners of the buildings have not commented yet.

City officials have reached out the building owners to schedule a meeting to move the process forward, but they have not heard back.

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