- Faith & Family
I recently visited Wynwood with a City Commissioner; she wanted to show me what a few million in investment by private investors could do to turn around a neighborhood. I saw formerly empty warehouses turned into beautiful restaurants with green space, retail shops and women with babies strolling the neighborhood. The restaurants were decorated with “urban art.” This made me think about Michael Putney’s claim of hundreds of
millions of dollars poured into Liberty City with no major impact. I decided to research the claim. After the McDuffie riots in 1980, various federal officials and politicians promised to rebuild the areas ravished most. he riots. Approximately $117 million was promised to rebuild Liberty City; only $40 million actually benefited the area and residents. Of this promised $40 million, the amount actually disbursed to business was approximately $16.9 million. Of the $16.9 million, $7.9 million went to businesses that used the funds outside of the area impacted by the riot. If you look at the 205 loans provided by the SBA, only 34 went to Black-owned businesses. In other words only 16 percent of the promised loan fund went to Black-owned businesses. Bottom line —we got $2.7 million after being promised $40 million.
Another point to consider is that the $8 million that was counted was slated for minority contractors does not mean that Black contractors working in Liberty City received any of those funds. Minority contractors could be Cuban contractors working anywhere in the County. $1.9 million that was counted towards the total actually went to a job center located in Little Havana that allegedly served the Liberty City residents.
If the government had really poured $117 million into Liberty City, we would have water and sewer lines in every business and household. We would have stores with updated electrical and plumbing systems. We would have fancy restaurants, supermarkets and new housing stock. Most distressing is that out of the $10 million dollar CBDG budget of the City of Miami, only $400,000 was spent on rehabbing four businesses in Liberty City. To really turn it around we need to rehab all the business fronts on the 7th Avenue corridor. We need to build several large apartment complexes and a new shopping mall with a Target, Best Buy, etc. So much needs to be done. The $400,000 is really just a band-aid on a wound that has been hemorrhaging for decades.
The promises made do not match the reality. We were lied to by our government and reporters like Putney perpetuate the lie. Any fool could drive through Liberty City and realize in a nanosecond that very little funding has reached our streets.
Reginald J. Clyne is a partner at Clyne and Associates, P.A. of Miami/Fort Lauderdale.
By Reginald J. Clyne, Esq.
Miami Times columnist