26 April, 2007
I was saddened to read in this morning's Miami Herald that Umoja Village, the shanty town erected six months ago in the Liberty City neighborhood as a form of protest, burned to the ground last night. These were people unable to afford average rents of $1200, ridiculous home prices for the shoddiest of structures, not to mention hurricane-influenced homeowners insurance rates and outrageous property taxes. The fire, started by a burning candle left unattended, displaced 44 residents. Residents of Umoja voted on their issues, grew and tended gardens, and started a library with books donated from local students. They refuse to leave the site for fear City of Miami officials will seize the land and bar them from rebuilding. They say they will rebuild and continue their efforts to press for affordable housing and government accountability on housing issues. I truly hope they will.