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June 2020

July 2020

Bahamas Re-Opens for U.S. Travelers; 14-Day Quarantine Required

Bahamas Re-Opens

Bahamian government officials have reopened their borders to U.S. travelers, but upon arrival, visitors are expected to quarantine in a government facility for 14 days. The change was made to create a uniform standard for visitors during the coronavirus pandemic. For more information on travel guidelines to the Bahamas, click here.


Annual Community Pillars Awards Ceremony Set for August 1

 

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MIAMI – The Heritage Planning Committee of the Black Affairs Advisory Board will host its annual “Community Pillars” awards and scholarship presentation at 11:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m., on Saturday, August 1, 2020, via the Zoom virtual platform https://miamidade.live/PillarAwards. The event will be livestreamed on the Black Affairs Advisory Board’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/BlackAffairsAB/.

This year’s Community Pillars are:

• Armen Henderson, MD, for his volunteer efforts in providing onsite medical services to the homeless population in Miami.

• Edwin Sheppard, for founding the “Blindfolded International Student & Cultural Exchange” which facilitated an exchange program with students visiting South Florida from Botswana with students at Miami Central High School.

• Dr. Whittington B. Johnson, the first African American tenured professor hired at the University of Miami.

• Juanita Walker, for her a mission to provide quality childcare to some of the most economically disadvantaged communities in Miami-Dade County.

The Black Heritage Planning Committee will also award scholarships to five Young Pillars:

• Kamari Dawson (Morehouse College)

• Heaven Kendricks (Albany State)

• Na’Vaeh Kendricks (Albany State)

• Chanice Forbes (Missouri State)

• Kennedy Jennings (Alabama A&M University)

Additionally, the Black Hospitality Initiative (BHI) of the Greater Miami Convention will present its award to Florida International University student Paige Johnson. The Clarence Pittman Jr. Scholarship, supported by the Miami-Dade Chapter of the A. Philip Randolph Institute, will be presented to Brandi Milliner (Bethune-Cookman University) and Jasmine Brown (Florida State University).

“This year’s observance, as have many other community events, pivoted to the virtual Zoom platform due to the current pandemic,” notes Black Affairs Advisory Board Chair Stephen Hunter Johnson. “We are cognizant of the need to discourage in-person gatherings and decided not to postpone this uplifting celebration of our dedicated Community Pillars as well as present scholarships to our Young Pillar recipients,” added Black Heritage Planning Committee Chair Edgar Wright.

The honorees were selected for their support of programs or businesses which positively impact the community and have a deep commitment to public service. Most of them have toiled tirelessly without fanfare for years in their chosen community path.

For more information, please contact Black Affairs Advisory Board Director Retha Boone-Fye at Retha.Boone-Fye@miamidade.gov or 305-815-1932.

 

 

 


OLCDC Local Court Win Is A Victory For Affordable Housing Communities Nationwide

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Florida Court rules in favor of the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Program’s Right of First Refusal provision

 

(Opa-locka, FL) – On July 7, 2020, the Circuit Court of the 11th Judicial Circuit in Miami-Dade County ruled to preserve the housing needs of low- to moderate- income families in one of South Florida's most historic yet distressed cities, Opa-locka. In Case No. 2019-CA-016913, the plaintiff, Opa-Locka Community Development Corporation (OLCDC), asked the court to recognize its non-profit right of first refusal to purchase the property in its partnership with the defendant, HK Aswan, LLC et al., (Halkeen), to ensure Aswan Village Apartments in Opa-locka remains affordable and locally owned.

The court ruled unequivocally in favor of OLCDC on every issue before it. In a case with broad implications for non-profit affordable housing developers across the nation, the court’s summary judgment ruling confirmed that under Section 42 of the United States Code, which establishes the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program, a non-profit’s right of first refusal to purchase an affordable housing development in which it has participated under the program is not conditioned upon the receipt of any third-party offer to purchase the development. Instead, the court confirmed that all that is necessary under Section 42 to trigger a LIHTC right of first refusal is for the owner of the development to manifest an intent or willingness to sell the development. And, because the contract giving OLCDC its Section 42 right of first refusal contained no other conditions, it was not necessary for the owner to have received and entered into an enforceable purchase agreement before OLCDC’s right of first refusal was triggered and enforceable.

Dr. Willie Logan
Dr. Willie Logan

“Our mission has always been to revive the existing community without giving into gentrification,” says Dr. Willie F. Logan who founded OLCDC in 1980 when he was mayor of Opa-locka - later he was elected a Florida state representative. He continues to serve as president and chief executive officer of the non-profit organization which has built and rehabilitated more than 200 affordable single-family homes and 2,500 units of affordable multi-family housing in Opa-locka and the northern part of Miami-Dade County. “We are pleased with today’s summary judgment ruling which preserves Aswan Village as affordable housing stock in the community,” adds Dr. Logan.

Under the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program, which was established to increase the supply of affordable housing by incentivizing private investors to partner with non-profit developers like the OLCDC, non-profits who participate have a statutory right to purchase the property at the lowest price at the end of the term of the investor’s investment, which is a fifteen-year compliance period. The goal is to keep the value within the property, not to remove it upon the end of the investment term so the property remains affordable for renters.

In this case, OLCDC asserted that Halkeen sought to prevent OLCDC from ever exercising its right of first refusal and initiated unilateral actions to sell Aswan Village Apartments for fair market value, all in contravention of the parties’ contracts and applicable law, and to take more than $5.5 million of equity in the property rather than preserve it for the betterment of the property, its residents, and the community. The court soundly rejected Halkeen’s efforts and ordered it to specifically perform under the right of refusal, meaning that it must transfer the affordable housing development to OLCDC for the below-market sale price prescribed by Congress in Section 42. As a result of the court’s decision, all that remains in the case are a few pending motions and a soon to be scheduled jury trial on damages, pursuant to which OLCDC will be seeking damages in excess of $1 million.

Opa-locka’s case reflects a troubling national trend threatening the long-term viability of low-income housing projects. Rising values in certain markets have created an opportunity for private firms aggregating investor interests in LIHTC partnerships to profit far beyond the original investors’ expectations. By systematically disputing transfers to non-profits they can sell the property at a higher price than originally anticipated in the partnership agreement and undermine the goals of the LIHTC program.

Low-income families, single parents and seniors have lived in Aswan Village, for the past 16 years. It is a 216-unit affordable housing development for residents whose household income is between 30% and 60% of Miami-Dade Area Median Income. In Opa-locka, the poverty rate is 47.15 percent, affordable housing is essential.

The LIHTC program has generated millions of housing units nationwide since its inception in 1986, far more than any other federal program. But, housing needs have significantly outpaced supply, and a variety of economic and social factors have contributed to a growing affordable housing crisis throughout the country. In Florida, the LIHTC program is administered by the Florida Housing Finance Coalition.

OLCDC is determined to change the tide on this troublesome trend, ensuring the longevity of affordable housing inventory by helping to diminish ambiguities in the statute. This victory sets a precedence for related affordable housing partnership agreement litigation to be resolved in favor of nonprofit ownership and low-income housing, which was the intention of the LIHTC program.

OLCDC calls for public action to counter the tactics of aggregator firms. “We need to protect our low-income communities nationally by supporting organizations fighting the battle on every level,” says Dr. Logan. “We must keep our affordable housing affordable and locally owned.”

 

 

 


URGENT: COVID-19 Testing Protocol for Visitors to The Bahamas

Bahamas Protocol

Effective immediately, all travelers to The Bahamas will be required to complete an electronic Bahamas Health Visa application before departure from the place of embarkation. This can be found at travel.gov.bs. Travelers are required to upload a negative COVID-19 RT-PCR test and provide contact information. 

The Government of The Bahamas will accept the negative COVID-19 RT-PCR (swab) test if the sample was taken within (10) ten days of arrival. Tests over ten (10) days old will not be accepted. 

An automated response will be provided once the application is completed. The only persons approved to travel are those who have received a green color-coded response, as proof of approval. This confirmation must be presented upon arrival in The Bahamas. The Health Visa application process will take twenty-four to forty-eight (24-48) hours and should be completed with adequate lead time. 

Failure to comply with the stated requirements will result in denied entry. It is recommended that all travelers interested in visiting The Bahamas review requirements applicable to each member of their traveling party at www.bahamas.com/travelupdates before booking a trip. 

For more information, or to view the Tourism Readiness and Recovery Plan, please visit www.bahamas.com/travelupdates. You may also contact the Ministry of Tourism COVID-19 travel hotline at (242) 502-0829 Monday to Friday, 8 AM – 6 PM, or via email at contactusteam@bahamas.com. 

 


Miami-Dade Schools Superintendent Discusses Re-opening Schools on Meet The Press [VIDEO]

Miami-Dade schools superintendent Albert Carvalho was a guest on Meet The Press on July 12, 2020. He discussed re-opening schools, including instructional delivery options, as our nation deals with the COVID-19 pandemic. He also stated that conditions may be appropriate for re-opening in six weeks. 


Deadline TOMORROW on 2020-2021 Miami-Dade County Public Schools Reopening Survey

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Attention Parents! The survey deadline has been extended until July 15 , Miami-Dade County Public Schools (MDCPS) is asking you to complete a questionnaire to declare intent for your child's educational experience for the 2020-2021 #MDCPSReopening Phase 2 via the parent portal, on the Dadeschools mobile app or in person at schools. Visit reopening.dadeschools.net for more information or call 305-995-HELP if you need additional assistance.

Important County Commission Meeting on West Grove

See Public Notice below. A Public Hearing has been scheduled to be held on Tuesday, July 21, 2020 at 9:30 AM, to address issues including the establishment of a West Grove Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) and to prepare a community development plan for the area. The meeting will be webcast. See instructions to participate by Zoom or by phone. 

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