The Miami affiliate of Habitat for Humanity was born in 1989. With a small but dedicated workforce comprised solely of volunteers and sponsors, the new Miami Habitat completed four homes in West Perrine during its first year. Over the next few years, the addition of more volunteers and partners enabled the new organization to build more extensive bonds within select communities in Miami-Dade county.
The Jimmy Carter Work Project came to riot-torn Liberty City in 1991 to help rejuvenate the community from within, infusing pride through home ownership and spreading the “theology of the hammer” – the idea that putting faith and love into action bridges theological differences and forges common ground, and ultimately manifests God’s love in tangible ways. Love is a powerful force and at the end of seven days, 14 homes stood as proud evidence of that fact.
In 1992, Hurricane Andrew, a massive category-5 hurricane, roared through South Florida, becoming the costliest disaster in US history to date. The 165mph winds proved to be no match for the 27 well-built Habitat homes in South Dade at the time: none sustained any structural damage.
Since Hurricane Andrew, with faith in God and through His help, nearly 200 homes have been built for displaced hurricane victims. This number included over 40 houses in Goulds built on a donated 10-acre parcel and more than 90 additional homes in a South Miami Heights subdivision called Habitat Villas.
Habitat for Humanity continued working in rural South Dade, building Jordan Commons, a model community based on sustainable development and energy-efficient homes. With 187 completed homes and a community center, the development is one of the largest Habitat for Humanity communities in the nation.
After several years of hurricane rebuilding in the southern portion of the county, Miami Habitat redirected its focus to the distressed inner city neighborhoods of Liberty City, Little Haiti, and Overtown. Habitat’s “Rebuilding Our Communities” initiative, which was launched in 1997, brought over 90 homes to blighted neighborhoods; block by block these communities were revitalized with love and hard work as homes replaced vacant lots. So far, in Overtown, Miami Habitat has built 84 homes; in Little Haiti, 44; in Liberty city, 133 homes have been completed. Now you can see and hear children playing in their yards, their voices carrying a message of hope.
Habitat communities now exist in Liberty City, Little Haiti, Little River, Overtown, Highland Park, South Miami, West Perrine, Goulds, Princeton, Homestead and Florida City. Nearly 1000 low-income families have been able to fulfill their dreams by becoming first-time homeowners and moving into Habitat homes throughout Miami-Dade County.
As we look toward the future, Habitat for Humanity of Greater Miami kicked off its newest community, Habitat Landings located in South Miami Heights, in February of 2013 with construction to continue as the projected 45 home community will become a reality.