Politics, Government & Law

Wilson to Host Higher Education and Workforce Investment Subcommittee Hearing on the Future of Higher Education Post-COVID

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Washington, D.C. – Today, at 1 p.m. ET, Congresswoman Frederica S. Wilson will lead her first hearing as chair of the Education and Labor Committee’s Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Investment. The theme is Rising to the Challenge: The Future of Higher Education.

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted significant inequities in higher education and placed an enormous strain on universities and colleges and their students. The abrupt shift to remote learning has exacerbated barriers that make it difficult to successfully attend and graduate from college, particularly for low-income students and students of color who depend more heavily on the on-campus services they no longer had access to, including food and housing. While all students have been impacted by the pandemic, the biggest enrollment declines have occurred among black undergraduates and low-income students. Alarmingly, students who do not complete their educations have considerably higher levels of loan default. There is also evidence that the shift to online learning has compounded existing racial achievement gaps.

“The three relief packages passed by Congress invests more than $75 billion to help institutions and students avert crises, but we must do much more to ensure that underserved students are not left behind as the nation recovers from the pandemic,” says Congresswoman Wilson. “Bold steps will be required to strengthen student protections and expand access to student aid so that we build back a better higher education system for everyone. This hearing will explore how we can begin to achieve those goals.”

To watch the hearing, click here.

 


Follow the Money: School Board Vice-Chair Dr. Steve Gallon Proposes Item to Address the Receipt, Plan and Accountability for the District’s Nearly $1.1 Billion from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021

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At today’s Miami-Dade County School Board Meeting, Vice-Chair Dr. Steve Gallon III will propose an agenda item regarding the almost $1.1 billion the school district receives from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.

On March 11, 2021, President Joe Biden signed into law The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, a $1.9 trillion economic stimulus bill passed by the 117th United States Congress. It intends to speed up the United States’ recovery from the economic and health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing recession, which developed as a consequence. First proposed on January 14, 2021, the package builds upon many of the measures in the CARES Act from March 2020 and in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 from December 2020. 

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 provides $1,400 direct payments to individuals making up to $75,000 annually, $350 billion in aid to state and local governments, and $14 billion for vaccine distribution. It also provides $130 billion to elementary, middle, and high schools to assist with safe reopening, with Florida slated to receive approximately $7.4 billion. Miami-Dade County Public Schools, the state’s largest school district and having the highest proportion of economically disadvantaged students, is estimated to receive $1.1 billion. The bill will also directly impact local students and families through individual relief measures, including child tax credits that are projected to reduce child poverty substantially. 

With the infusion of these funds, the District will enhance its capacity to mitigate and address the adverse impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on its students and their learning for over a year, with studies anticipating that learning loss will be more significant among low-income, Black, and Hispanic students---a demographic highly concentrated in Miami-Dade County Public Schools and whose anticipated academic, social, and emotional needs exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic in large part and generated the unprecedented amount of federal funds.

Gallon’s proposal also directs the Superintendent to schedule a Board Workshop to discuss and review the allocation and allowable use of these funds, as well as,  review the prior allocation, expenditure, and planned use for remaining funds allocated to the District through the CARES Act from March 2020 and in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 from December 2020; and establish a system and structure for quarterly reporting of all funds expended through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 and make available for easy public access and review on the District’s website.

“This will ensure that the Board provides increased focus, transparency, and accountability as well as an opportunity for the public to be informed about and serve witness to the School Board’s policy, practices, and procurement decision-making processes involving nearly $1.1 billion that have been allocated to enhance and uplift the learning and lives of our students---especially those facing the greatest challenges and with the greatest needs,” said Dr. Gallon.

To read the full item, click here: 

http://schoolboard.dadeschools.net/documents/agenda/h17.pdf


Black Men’s Thoughts on the Kamala Harris Ascendency to Madam Vice President

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Kamala Harris pledging Alpha Kappa Alpha at Howard University in 1986. The organization was founded on the campus with 16 students in 1908; it has grown to more than 300,ooo members.



On Tuesday, August 11, 2020, history was made when then Democratic presidential nominee, Joe Biden, selected Senator Kamala Devi Harris to be his running mate. Harris, already a trailblazer in American politics, became the first Black women to run for Vice-President on a major political party ticket. Her nomination was celebrated by many Americans, especially Black women who are frequently touted as the backbone of the Democratic Party.

Harris’s Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority sisters were often tapped by mainstream media to provide a perspective on Harris from her undergraduate days at Howard University and the significance of her historic candidacy. We reached out to Black men, to get their perspective on the Harris ascendency to the second most powerful position in American government. Like Harris, each of these men is a member of a Divine Nine organization. Their opinions are their own.

Taj Echoles

There is nothing "by chance" in this thing called life. Every move we make-every step we take leads to our destiny and end result. If you ask anyone who attended Howard University, even for a short period of time, to chronicle their experience at the MECCA they will all say the same thing: "U-KNOW" 

"U-KNOW" the education, experiences and relationships earned at "The Real HU" will prepare you for life in ways that you can never imagine.  It will prepare you to become a Supreme Court Justice, a member of the United States Congress, or an award winning actor/entertainer. But if you ask Kamala Harris it prepared her to be the first woman and person of African descent to serve as Vice President of the United States of America. "U-KNOW" the importance of brotherhood and sisterhood. Being apart of the Divine Nine is not only a rite of passage but a bond and pledge to serve. In return, the promise of solidarity to lift one another to the highest of heights. We witnessed first hand, the ladies of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated and brothers and sisters across the Divine Nine united to create history not only for Kamala Harris but for the entire diaspora. "I-KNOW" as a graduate of Howard University and member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated like Vice President Kamala Harris the importance and magnitude of our very existence:

"We are the Ancestors wildest dreams..."

Kenneth Williams

As a Kappa and HBCU alumnus I’m immensely proud of Kamala Harris. I view her election as clouded. As it is obvious she is a Black woman and she is Greek, I feel that the greatest impact is reflected in her being a woman. She has broken a glass ceiling that no other woman has. Obama shattered the ceiling for all minorities on being elected President. So the impact of her being Black is not the major emphasis. However her impact as a woman is monumental.

Kionne McGhee-3

The magnitude of Kamala Harris as Vice President of the United States of America as a woman and of African descent is beyond words. As a graduate of Howard University, Vice President Kamala Harris and I share an experience that only individuals who have attended the "MECCA" can relate to.  As a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. I am extremely proud that a soror/sister of the "Divine Nine" has been given the ultimate opportunity to represent all Americans at the highest level. As Vice President of the United States of America...

Andre Joyce

There was a lot of work to be done, and a country that was in need of healing. Kamala Harris would bring a wealth of knowledge to the administration. A junior senator, assigned to the Intelligence Committee and Homeland Security Governmental Affairs Committee, she would be a very good choice with great insight. 

I thought about how black men would see her and relate. Some older men, middle age men, because of her reputation, thought that she would only want to see them go to jail --- “locking black men up”. I see something very different. I see an opportunity to change the narrative for a Black woman to be a champion for not only Black people, but for everybody. I see a woman that young men would want their daughters to emulate, because if she could do it, so could they. I see her being an advocate for true justice reform.

It is time to rally behind her as she takes on her new role. We have to move on past those things that we may have heard and support her because she is our own, she is well-qualified, and has proven herself. We must pray for her and ask God to guide her as she moves. She has been the chosen one and she has the blessings of our ancestors. Kamala, you got this!

Eric Pettus

I took one look at her pledge picture and I knew that regardless of what one might think about her prosecutorial record, or her choice in a mate, she knows the struggle of Black America because she pledged in 1986 at Howard University. That was not a time....never mind. Lets just say that she could not and would not have survived pledging AKA at Alpha Chapter with 37 black line sisters and not have been one of us.

Kamala Harris reaching this milestone is what every Black Greek Letter Organization, particularly those in the Divine Nine were founded to do. Each and every member of the collective organizations should be overjoyed and extremely proud that one of us has made it to this point. It is a testament to the heights that we can achieve through our brotherhoods and sisterhoods. Applaud and support VP Harris’ achievement and dare to dream that in four years, or in eight, that she can move to President. In the meantime, the charge I will leave for my Brothers of Iota Phi Theta is to do our part to live up to our predominant motto… Building a Tradition and Not Resting Upon One! There are more Presidents and Vice Presidents among us. OW-OW



Florida Democrats Have a Chance to Make History: Five Things You Need to Know

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At noon tomorrow, Saturday, January 9, 2021, the Florida Democratic Party will elect a state chair and other officers.

1. A Democrat has not been elected governor of Florida in almost three decades, and the result of the 2020 general election was the most embarrassing losses in recent history. The Democrats lost two congressional seats, lost three seats, and two open seats in the Florida Legislature, lost the presidential race by 375,000 votes, and possibly permanently removed Florida from the “swing state” category to red.

2. As expected, current State Chair Terrie Rizzo bore the brunt of the blame and did not seek re-election. Six individuals declared their candidacy for State Chair — former City of Miami Mayor Manny Diaz; DNC (Democratic National Committee) member Nikki Barnes; Environmental Caucus Chair Dr. Janelle Christensen; former State Representative and Alachua County Party Chair Dr. Cynthia Moore Chestnut; Orange County Party Chair Wes Hodge; and Hillsborough County Party Chair Ione Townsend.

The candidates have participated in a series of forums and interviews. The online conversations between party faithful and supporters have been fast, furious, eye-opening, and informative. The chair is just one of the offices to be determined. There must also be a vote on the first vice-chair, secretary, treasurer, and DNC members.

3. Because of a gender-balance requirement in the organization’s arcane by-laws, the chair and vice-chair must be of the opposite gender, as is the same for the secretary and treasurer. That requirement also adds an interesting element to campaigning and political wheeling and dealing. It also helps to understand why some endorsers who are also candidates line-up on certain teams.

4. As of this writing, Nikki Barnes, Wes Hodge, and Dr. Janelle Christensen have suspended their campaigns. All three have endorsed Dr. Chestnut.

5. If elected, Dr. Cynthia Moore Chestnut could make history as the first Black person elected to lead the Florida Democratic Party. Being the first is not new to her. Dr. Chestnut is the first Black woman elected to the Gainesville City Commission; the first Black woman elected Mayor-Commissioner of Gainesville, the first Black woman elected to the Florida House of Representatives from Alachua, Marion, and Putnam counties, and the first Black woman elected to the Alachua County Commission.

Dr. Chestnut, a Tallahassee native, is well-known throughout the state of Florida. She is a graduate of Florida A&M University, Florida State University, and Nova Southeastern University. She is also a member of The Links, Incorporated and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated.

She is a life-long Democrat and proven leader who is uplifting but doesn't tell you what you want to hear just to get your support, and genuinely welcomes everyone to the “Big Tent” the Democrats like to brag about.

Dr. Cynthia Moore Chestnut embodies the “magic” that so many outside our community seem to have just discovered, but we see every day. The nation has seen it in Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and Stacey Abrams. Democrats can win again if it returns to its grassroots and listens to the voters. Tomorrow’s Florida Democratic Party election will determine the political trajectory of Florida. Stay tuned for the results.

 

 

 


City of Opa-locka Hosts Swearing-In Ceremony for Newly-Elected Commission Members

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Clockwise, from top left, City of Opa-locka Mayor Matthew Pigatt; former Judge Shirlyon McWhorter swears in Vice Mayor Veronica Williams; former City of Opa-locka Mayor Dr. ML Taylor swears in son John Taylor Jr.; and  City of Opa-locka Commission, from left, Commissioner Chris Davis, Vice Mayor Veronica Williams, Mayor Matthew Pigatt, Commissioner Alvin Burke, and Commissioner John Taylor Jr.

 

(OPA-LOCKA, FL)  —  The City of Opa-locka hosted a Swearing-In Ceremony for the newly-elected Commission Members Vice Mayor Veronica Williams and Commissioner John Taylor Jr. on Thursday, November 19, at the Sherbondy Village Community Center. 

City of Opa-locka Mayor Matthew Pigatt served as the Master of Ceremony which began with an invocation from Rev. Dr. Ranzer A. Thomas, Sr., Senior and Founding Pastor of New Generation Missionary Baptist Church. Rev. Dr. Kay Williams-Dawson, Senior Pastor at Cathedral of Praise, introduced newly-elected Vice Mayor Williams. The Honorable Judge Shirlyon J. McWhorter, former Miami-Dade County Circuit Judge, swore in newly-elected Vice Mayor Williams.

Next, newly-elected Commissioner Taylor was introduced by his wife Monica Taylor. Dr. M.L. Taylor, former Mayor of the City of Opa-locka and her husband Bishop John Taylor then swore in their son, newly-elected Commissioner Taylor. Other program participants included: John E. Pate, City Manager; Commissioner Chris Davis; and Commissioner Alvin Burke.

“I believe that now more than ever we needed more leaders that will talk less, listen more, and work together for the community and the citizens that we were selected and elected to serve. So, time’s out for secret agendas, time’s out for cliques, time’s out for ununified behaviors. We were elected by the people to support the people,” said Commissioner Taylor. “Let me fight for you and be your advocate. To the 1,600 plus people that reside within the walls of the great City of Opa-locka, I stand here for you and because of you.”

“Service for people has always been at the forefront of everything I do. I follow the footsteps of many trailblazing African-American women in politics in Miami. To the many black and brown women stepping up to the plate to shape our communities and our country⎯⎯this is why I decided to be the change agent that I wanted to see in my community,” said Vice Mayor Williams. “I am ready to work with everyone to form a new vision to create a new and better reputation for the City of Opa-locka because I am Opa-locka!”

To view the event, visit: City of Opa-locka’s Facebook page


Photos: Gregory F. Reed

 

 


THE MIAMI-BISCAYNE BAY (FL) CHAPTER OF THE LINKS, INCORPORATED HOSTS VIRTUAL FORUM ON FLORIDA’S CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS

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Miami, FL — This year’s November general election ballot includes six questions proposed to amend Florida’s constitution. The Miami-Biscayne Bay (FL) Chapter of The Links, Incorporated, wants to make sure the community is informed when ballots are cast on these important issues. In partnership with the Miami-Dade and South Dade Branches of the NAACP and the Miami-Dade National Pan-Hellenic Council, The Links will present a virtual issues forum, “WE THE PEOPLE: Get the FACTS Before Voting on Florida’s Constitutional Amendments!” The forum is scheduled for 6:30 PM-7:30 PM ET, Wednesday, October 14, 2020 and will be broadcast on Facebook Live and Zoom.

The program will be moderated by Bobby Henry Sr., publisher of The Westside Gazette, Broward County, Florida’s oldest and largest African American owned and operated newspaper.

Joining Henry for a spirited discussion and deep dive into the amendments are: 

  • Yolanda Cash Jackson, Shareholder, Becker & Poliakoff, and member of the Greater Miami (FL) Chapter of The Links, Incorporated;
  • Donald Jones, Professor, University of Miami School of Law; and
  • JoLinda L. Herring, Shareholder, Bryant Olive Miller, and member of Miami-Biscayne Bay (FL) Chapter of The Links, Incorporated.

“Voting is one of our most important responsibilities as American citizens, we should be sure we are informed when we exercise that right,” said Miami-Biscayne Bay Chapter President Georgia H. McLean. “The goals of this forum are to make sure we have dissected each proposed amendment and that each attendee logs off informed and ready to vote.”

The forum is scheduled for 6:30 PM-7:30 PM ET, Wednesday, October 14, 2020 and will be broadcast on Facebook Live and Zoom. Click here to register in advance. Submit questions, in advance, to mbbclinksinc@gmail.com. 

 


Oprah Winfrey, NAACP and National Voting Rights Leaders Join Together for National Town Hall: “OWN YOUR VOTE: OUR LIVES DEPEND ON IT”

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Winfrey To Discuss Her New Initiative “OWN Your Vote” with NAACP President and CEO and Other Key Leaders in the Fight for Voting Rights, Focused Specifically on Mobilizing Black Women to Vote 

WASHINGTON, D.C. (September 22, 2020) – Oprah Winfrey and OWN have joined together with the NAACP and national voting rights leaders to host “OWN Your Vote: Our Lives Depend On it,” a virtual conversation aimed to inspire and equip thousands of voters and community leaders with specific steps they can take to register to vote, request their absentee ballots, and mobilize voters throughout their community. Slated to take place on September 24, 2020, at 8:00 PM EST, the hour-long conversation will include remarks from leaders in the fight for voting rights, including Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, Stacey Abrams (Fair Fight), Minyon Moore (Power Rising), Tiffany Dena Loftin (NAACP Youth and College), Judith Browne Dianis, and other key leaders. Join this conversation by visiting bit.ly/OprahZoom and registering today!

“We are excited to work with OWN, Ms. Winfrey and other key voting rights leaders as we engage our members, activists, and community leaders around the country about the importance of this election and their vote,” said Derrick Johnson, president and CEO, NAACP. “Her voice during this critical time when communities not only need reassurance in their ability to affect change but encouragement and enlightenment on how to do so with clear impact cannot be overstated.”

As the nation reels from the effects of COVID-19, racial injustice, and voter suppression, OWN Your Vote seeks to shed light on the solution through a bipartisan registration and a get-out-the-vote campaign aimed at providing OWN’s audience of Black women with tools and resources to overcome voter suppression in the November election. The pro-social campaign connects people to urgent political actions and gives their concerns a powerful microphone by placing a spotlight on crucial community issues.

“OWN is proud to partner with the NAACP and prominent voting rights leaders to hold this important conversation to energize and engage our community to vote this November,” said Tina Perry, president of OWN. “This is a critical time in our history to come together and raise our voices.”

Along with shedding light on why this moment is paramount for Black women to use their voice, Ms. Winfrey will also moderate a panel discussion that will bring attention to barriers to voting, what everyone should know about this election, and how they can overcome voter suppression in their community.

The OWN Your Vote campaign has been informed by a study OWN conducted with over 700 Black women of voting age to identify critical issues affecting them. The political impact tracking study determined that affordable health care and racism/discrimination are the two most relevant issues to Black women this election season.

OWN Your Vote Partner Organizations include:

Advancement Project National Office

Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated

AME Church Social Action Commission

Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated

Fair Fight Action

Higher Heights Leadership Fund

Joseph and Evelyn Lowery Institute for Justice and Human Rights

The Kapor Center

The King Center (Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change, Inc.)

Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law

The Links, Incorporated

NAACP

NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF)

National Council of Negro Women

National Urban League

Power Rising

Power to the Polls

Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Incorporated

Sistahs in Business Expo

Vote Run Lead

Vote.org

VoteAsIf.org

When We All Vote

Woke Vote

Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated


Surviving, Thriving and Mobilizing and the New South Virtual Town Hall Meeting on Thursday, September 24

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The Southern Area of The Links, Incorporated presents the second in a series of Surviving, Thriving and Mobilizing and the New South Virtual Town Hall Meetings! On Thursday, September 24th at 9 PM EST, witness "Politics, Faith & Media: Harnessing the Collective Power of When We All Vote." Joining the one hour 15 minute discussion will be one of the most powerful men in politics, House Majority Whip Rep. James Clyburn, renowned activist and faith leader, Bishop William Barber and journalist/talk show host Roland Martin. The meeting will be shown live via Facebook telecast, on the Southern Area Website (www.salinksinc.org) and via Youtube.


Sunshine Meeting Between County Commissioners Regarding Renaming Miami International Airport

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A Sunshine Meeting is scheduled for 1 p.m., tomorrow, Monday, September 14, 2020 regarding the renaming of the Miami International Airport. The meeting is between Commissioners Esteban Bovo, Vice-Chairwoman Rebecca Sosa and Chairwoman Audrey Edmonson. We don’t know any additional details. There was a previous attempt in 2018 by Commissioner Jean Monestime to rename the airport after Former City of Miami Mayor Maurice Ferre. Commissioner Sosa objected; the airport is located in her commission district.

Meeting details are in the notice below.   

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, FLORIDA

PUBLIC NOTICE

NOTICE IS GIVEN that a Sunshine Meeting between the Honorable Commissioner Esteban L. Bovo, Jr., Miami-Dade County Commissioner, District 13; the Honorable Audrey M. Edmonson, Chairwoman, Miami-Dade County Board of County Commissioners, District 3; and the Honorable Rebeca Sosa, Vice-Chairwoman, Miami-Dade County Board of County Commissioners, District 6, is scheduled for Monday, September 14, 2020, at 1:00 p.m., to discuss Miami International Airport Renaming. This meeting will only be held virtually utilizing communications media technology made permissible pursuant to the Governor’s Executive Orders.

Interested parties may:

(1) Join the meeting live online to speak where permissible or listen to the meeting by registering in advance at: https://miamidade.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_4iY3NPRdTdyoXP8D3YmawA. Zoom registration will be available beginning September 10, 2020;

(2) Call into the live meeting by phone to speak, if permissible, or listen to the meeting by dialing in at: US Toll-free 877-853- 5247 or 888-788-0099 and using Meeting ID: 992 5401 6580; to avoid delays you may register in advance at https://miamidade.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_4iY3NPRdTdyoXP8D3YmawA

(3) if you are deaf or hard of hearing, you may join the meeting using Florida Relay Service by dialing 711 on your telephone.

  1. Miami-Dade County provides equal access and equal opportunity in its programs, services and activities and does not discriminate on the basis of disability. To request materials in accessible format, a sign language interpreter, Communication Access Real-time Translation services, and/or any other accommodation to participate in any County meeting, please contact Lenna Borjes, (305) 375-5380, Lenna.Borjes@miamidade.gov at least three days in advance of the meeting to initiate your request. TTY users may also call 711 (Florida Relay Service).

If you have any questions or require additional information regarding the virtual meeting, please contact Lenna Borjes at the Office of Commissioner Esteban Bovo, Jr. (DIST. 13) at (305) 375- 5380 or send an email to: Lenna.Borjes@miamidade.gov. (Due to COVID -19, staff is currently working remotely, but will respond within a reasonable period of time to messages which have been received).


HARVEY RUVIN, CLERK

MELISSA ADAMES, DEPUTY CLERK


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.”