(Update) A local condo developer and a homeless advocacy group are nearing a landmark deal to house the remaining sex offenders living under the Julia Tuttle Causeway, according to sources familiar with the negotiations.
The offenders would be housed at Brickell high-rises that have been all but empty since the real estate bust, the source said.
"It is morally reprehensible that there are homeless individuals living like trolls under a bridge when there are thousands of condos sitting empty," said a homeless advocate who asked to remain anonymous because of the sensitivity of the talks.
The Miami-Dade Homeless Trust -- which finds housing and organizes job
training for the county's sprawling homeless population -- has placed some 50 offenders in
multifamily dwellings around the county since March, when it tore down
the shantytown under the bridge, said Ron Book, the group's chairman. But its housing inventory is drying up because there are too many applicants, he added.
That's when the developer, who one source identified as Jorge Perez, stepped in. Only 100 of the 1,800 units at his Icon Brickell, located on the 400 block of Brickell Avenue, have been sold
since the building was completed in 2009.
Under the deal, the advocacy group would use federal stimulus money to subsidize a reduced rent for six
months. The condos come with an option to
lease, sources said, so that if the offenders find jobs, they can remain
renting the empty apartments to the remaining sex offenders, the source
said, Perez could perform a public service and finally make some
from the troubled high-rise. "It's a shame for these beauts to go
untouched," he said. "Yuppies, hobos -- what difference does it make?"
The source added that to make the building "offender-friendly," each apartment will be outfitted with brand-new furnishings,
surround-sound playing Justin Bieber on rotation, and a liquor cabinet
full of roofies and moonshine.
Some nonoffender homeless have complained that the county is so eager
to close down the colony under the bridge that they've put them on the housing backburner. "I haven't done anything wrong," said Boxcar Willy Jordan. "I'm no
kiddie-diddler, so where's my free digs?"
To address those concerns, the source said the advocacy group would choose a few lucky homeless to receive free iPads, Apple's revolutionary tablet,
which go on sale Saturday.
The free iPads will be distributed through a bidding process, otherwise
known as a hobo brawl. "It's the most fair process we could think of,"
the source said. "Hobo against hobo, hand to hand, no knives, and the winner
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gets a spiffy new toy."
But the homeless are skeptical. Boxcar Willy said that, while nice, the iPads are no penthouse. In any case, he would prefer a Kindle, which he
says weighs nothing and has a cooler name. Meanwhile, longtime hobo Del Griffith complained he wouldn't have any room for the iPad on his pickle barrel.
Update: April's Fools. Har Har.