MIAMI (CBS4) – Carlton Dixon is proud of his little cotton tree. It’s all he has left to show the granddaughters he’s raising that he once owned a home in the Brownsville neighborhood.
In 2003, a tornado tore through Brownsville severely damaging his house. The Miami-Dade County Commission promised to build new homes for Dixon and a dozen other homeowners who didn’t have insurance through a plan called “Project Rebuild.”READ MORE: Living Large: 1000 Museum Boasts Penthouse With South Florida's Only Helipad
But seven years later, instead of rebuilding, the County bulldozed their homes and left only empty lots. Dixon pays taxes on his lot every year and early last year he called the CBS4 I-Team for help.
“It’s been hard, it’s been hard,” Dixon told CBS4’s Natalia Zea in early 2010.
The I-Team found that not only were seven families stuck with empty lots; but four other homeowners were living in dangerous, dilapidated homes, including Teresa Durand.
Durand’s ceiling bulged menacingly.
“Do you ever get afraid it’s going to fall on you?” Zea asked Durand in March, 2010. “Yeah, when it rains a lot and I hear the wind,” said Durand.
The CBS4 I-Team demanded answers from the Director of the County Dept overseeing “Project Rebuild.”
She told Zea the County would break ground on Durand’s house and three others and said she would find funding for the rest, including Dixon’s.READ MORE: 'To Police Well, You Have To Be Well Yourself:' Program Addresses Officer Mental Health
Zea checked on Durand’s home Friday and found the County has begun building her a new one. A basic frame has already been constructed.
But Dixon said he and the other five homeowners have been told their only option is to move into a house in another neighborhood, and pay a brand new mortgage.
“That wasn’t the deal right?” asked Zea.
“That wasn’t the deal, I want the deal….I ain’t got no mortgage on this right here. They promised me they would build this house,” insisted Dixon.
The County told CBS4 it will begin to build Dixon and five others a home this year, though a spokesperson could not identify the exact funding source.
After nearly 8 years of empty promises, Dixon doesn’t believe it will happen that soon.
“They should’ve never torn (my house) down. If they put my shack back I’d be alright,” said Dixon.
Even if the county delivers on all of its promises; it will be too late for two homeowners. They’ve died while waiting for homes to be built on their empty lots.
Carlton hopes he’ll see his home built in his lifetime. Until then, he’s trying to keep calm.MORE NEWS: Police: Glades Middle School Teacher Arrested After Pursuing Romantic Relationship With Former Student
“Dealing with this right here, it’s best for me to take it easy,” Carlton said. “No matter how bad it is, take it easy or you won’t be here when they do build it.”