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Innovative Housing Community Opened For Homeless In South Dade

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Verde Gardens Homestead
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Neighbors 4 Neighbors

HOMESTEAD (CBS4) – Timothy Drayton may be the proudest renter in Homestead.

“This is our modern day miracle,” said Drayton as he showed off his new home at Verde Gardens in Homestead.

Considering not so long ago he was laid off, evicted, and forced to sleep with his family in his car he certainly has some a long way.

“It was hard. My sons would say ‘Dad where will be sleep tonight. Well one of you get in the backseat and one of us would get all the way in the back of the car.’ It was just horrible. I felt less than a man,” said Drayton.

From homeless he now has a four-bedroom house. Drayton was one of 48 families who have moved into Verde Gardens, a townhouse community dedicated to helping end South Florida’s homelessness.

Ron Book, chairman of the Miami-Dade Homeless Trust, said it hasn’t been easy.

“We were told ‘forget it’. We were told ‘no’. We were told ‘hell no’. We were told ‘we are not going to let you do it’. We stayed focused, we stayed committed, we said ‘yes we can’ because nothing is impossible,” Book said.

It took the Homeless Trust and Carrfour Supportive Housing nearly 15 years to do it but Wednesday the community of 145 townhomes officially opened. Homeless families can live here permanently as long as they pay 30% of their income on rent.

“We went around the country looking for all the best ideas and we put them together into one project. Again no place in America has done this,” Book said.

There is more there though than just townhouses.

Next door is a 22 acre organic farm where residents will get the opportunity to work. If they like it they can grow a business.

“They will be given a plot of land that they can actually grow. Grow food for their families and grow food they can sell at the farmers market to generate money for their families,” explained Stephanie Berman of Carrfour Supportive Housing.

The organic farmers market on the site is already bringing in money. Profits go back into the farm thus sustaining the entire community.

“This is about a second chance. It’s about a new opportunity,” Berman said.

Drayton agrees.

“We have everything we need now. So it’s up to us and I want to see everyone who came here with us make it somewhere in life,” said Drayton.

The car that Timothy and his family slept in, a beat up old Ford Explorer is now parked out front of their new home, and he couldn’t be happier.

The market is located at the former Homestead Air Force Base which closed as a result of Hurricane Andrew. It’s open Fridays from 4 p.m. to 8p.m.

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