(WSVN) - The county calls the living conditions on a Miami-Dade property deplorable and a safety issue. The homeowner says he’s just trying to give people a place to stay during the pandemic, but as the Nightteam’s Karen Hensel shows us, there’s a lot more going on behind the gate.
A drive down this street in Northwest Miami-Dade reveals modest homes painted in pastels.
Nothing unusual until you reach this property, where the actual home isn’t even visible.
It’s obscured by a thick gate adorned with signs like: “Warning: You are entering a house of heaven. Please leave hell outside.”
Karen Hensel: “Hi.”
We were surprised to get a call inviting us inside the gate after the homeowner took issue over what the county slapped on the outside — this bright red unsafe property notice.
Micah Israel, homeowner: “If they can exempt whatever is going on until the pandemic is over, just exempt my situation with permits just to help my people and to save lives.”
Micah Israel is the homeowner.
He is a former South Florida police officer, and he says he is also the son of Yahweh Ben Yahweh.
Micah Israel: “My name is Micah Yahweh in English.”
Ben Yahweh was the infamous founder of a religious movement that started in South Florida decades ago.
Yahweh Ben Yahweh: “The messiah. I am the messiah.”
He was convicted of conspiracy to commit murders and died in 2007, and like the tarps and tents that cover this property, Yahweh’s picture is everywhere.
Micah Israel: “He says, ‘I am the architect of the universe.'”
But, it’s the makeshift architecture filling the yard around the 1,300 square foot home that alarmed county inspectors.
Micah Israel: “We’re only having a family reunion to help my people from across the country to escape the pandemic.”
Israel said at one point, he had more than 20 people living in the yard. People he called family.
Karen Hensel: “Are these all blood relatives or are they religious relatives?”
Micah Israel: “These are blood lineage.”
He said he built this in his backyard during the pandemic to help visitors from out of town and allowed our cameras behind the gate.
Micah Israel: “Gymnasiums are closed. We couldn’t go to the spa to exercise, so I created my own.”
From a workout room, we walked on wood planks through the yard.
Karen Hensel: “Code enforcement said you have to get rid of what?”
Micah Israel: “All of this. It’s in violation.”
…To an outside laundry area.
Micah Israel: “In order to avoid going to the laundromat, I bought a washer and dryer.”
…Past tanks Israel said were used to recycle water.
Micah Israel: “This is the water tank that the water goes to, that filters to the pump that leads to a bathroom where I put toilets in to flush the toilets.”
Karen Hensel: “How many bathrooms do you have?”
Micah Israel: “Well we had, because we just disassembled them, we had four back here. I created our own barbershop, beauty salon.”
Karen Hensel: “You’ve got your own little tent city here.”
Micah Israel: “This is what we had as a condominium. This was a duplex. It had two people. They’re going to have to move. I even had — as gross as it may be — I had a toilet in a tree. It was flushing, these are the pipes. I had it going to the sewer line.”
Then, there was this wood framed tent inspectors found was pulling power from the main house.
Micah Israel: “So what we did was I got a pop up tent, and I cleared up my own courtroom, where I can teach my people how to do the law and obey the law.”
Karen Hensel: “So, you hold like mini-court in here?”
Micah Israel: “We did. We’re going to have to disassemble this.”
Karen Hensel: “Are they just pretend cases?”
Micah Israel: “No, well, yes.”
The county insists this pandemic power setup is illegal and dangerous.
Chaveli Moreno, Enforcement Support Division Chief, Miami-Dade County: “Definitely the possibility of fire. That’s where electrical becomes a main concern. When you have exposed wiring, imagine if something sparks there incorrectly, and now, you have all these tents and all these makeshift structures.”
Reports and pictures provide a snapshot of the problems inspectors found: “appliances installed outdoors” … electrical cords in tents … unpermitted piping for “outdoor restrooms, showers, kitchen and laundry areas” to name a few.
Chaveli Moreno: “I think this is a high alert. I think that’s why the department immediately took action.”
Israel told us he was already in the process of dismantling some of the outdoor housing, but last week, the power was shut off due to the unsafe conditions.
He has hired an electrician who has already pulled a proper permit in hopes of getting it turned back on.
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