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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Residents of one of South Florida’s most dangerous housing projects are speaking out about the proposal to tear down their homes to build a new housing complex in their place. Miami’s new police chief is throwing his weight behind the project.
Liberty Square, nicknamed the Pork and Beans project, is notorious for rampant crime. The Mayor and Miami’s Police Chief believe knocking down all of the buildings and constructing and a brand new housing project will transform the look and feel of the place—and will also cut down on crime in the area.
Time and time again, bullets are sprayed into homes inside Miami’s Liberty Square project. Some hit their intended targets, others hit innocent bystanders like 9-year-old Sherdavia Jenkins back in 2006.
Miami Police Department’s new Police Chief Rudy Llanes admits Liberty Square has long been a trouble spot with hundreds of shootings, countless drug transactions.
“Liberty Square is a very difficult area to police but policing is a lot easier than living here,” said Chief Llanes.
Chief Llanes is all for Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez’s new plan to transform the area by tearing down the buildings and constructing a brand new $74 million project.
“When you have something new, when you have something different the good people that live here will help push out the bad. This has been a decades old long problem and nobody has really been able to fix it,” said Gimenez.
Some residents say they will be glad to see the old “Pork and Beans” projects go, but others are sad to see this historic housing project, built in the 1930s, razed.
“It’s so much history here. I hate to see it have to be torn down like that,” said Sara Smith, head of the Liberty Square Residents Council. She has mixed feelings about this project which will be built on 50 acres here. There is a lot of distrust in this neighborhood after previous housing transformations left residents without a place to stay.
“If we’re gonna be moved let us move into something fresh. Let us move into something we can live in in dignity.”
Mayor Gimenez promises any resident in good standing with their lease, will be welcomed back to the new Liberty Square using the same rent structure they have now and in the interim, they will be moved to other housing projects.
“My overall commitment to the residents is A- they won’t be displaced, they’re gonna get new housing and B- this will be redeveloped into a neighborhood which they can be proud to call home.”
For the project to move forward, the County Commission will have to approve reallocating more than 30-million in County bond money for it within the next two months. And the project will use some state and federal dollars as well.
In all, the new Liberty Square will take an estimated five years to complete.