NORTH MIAMI, FLA. (WSVN) - A Miami-Dade organization aimed at tackling homelessness in the county is now able to do more to help as many people as possible.
7News cameras captured attendees at a ceremony held Friday at Mia Casa in North Miami, as the Miami-Dade Homeless Trust celebrated being the new owners of the seniors-only community.
Ron Book, chairman of the Miami-Dade Homeless Trust, said this is a major step toward ensuring everyone has a roof over their head.
“If we’re going to end homelessness, it is about the Homeless Trust acquiring buildings like this,” he said.
Mia Casa has already helped hundreds of older Miami-Dade residents through some tough times.
“Housing is an issue, affordable housing is an issue, so I can’t even tell you about homelessness,” said North Miami Vice Mayor Mary Estimé-Irvin.
For years, the Homeless Trust rented the property. Now they’ll be able to expand upon their mission: to combat the growing number of senior citizens finding themselves on the streets, what some have called the “silver tsunami.”
7News recently profiled some of the people who the organization has managed to get into a room at Mia Casa. A 65-year-old woman that the story referred to as “Maria,” shared her story, one that is becoming increasingly more common.
“The rent kept going up, more and more,” she said.
Maria and her 95-year-old mother, who spoke with 7News on the condition of anonymity, were evicted from their apartment in February.
Maria said they fell behind on rent when it climbed from $1,000 to nearly $1,600 a month.
When asked whether she ever thought this is where she would be at this stage in her life, Maria’s mother replied, “No, I sure didn’t.”
Maria said she was deeply concerned about her mother.
“She wakes up not knowing where we are going to be next,” she said. “It’s frightening not knowing if you are going to end up on the streets.”
The two women burned through their savings by staying in hotels, and just as they were preparing to start sleeping in Maria’s car, they found Mia Casa.
In 2018, the Miami-Dade Homeless Trust helped 3,086 seniors with housing. Last year, that number was 3,732.
Currently, nearly one in three homeless people in Miami-Dade are 55 and older.
“The face of homelessness today are the elderly,” said Book.
Because there is such a need for affordable housing, the Homeless Trust plans to convert three more properties into permanent housing for those in South Florida who are most in need.
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