Wayne Rosen does not fit the bill of a low-income individual living in a blighted community. In fact, he's the wealthy owner of Shores Development, one of the biggest homebuilders in southwest Dade. Rosen himself lives in a $3 million Coral Gables mansion and enjoys showering political allies with donations and even — in one case that spurred an ethics investigation that went nowhere — a Mercedes sold at a discount rate.
So Rosen is an odd candidate to receive millions of dollars in federal funds meant to help distressed communities. Especially when you consider what he plans to do with that cash: Namely, to renovate a golf course in the middle of a neighborhood he helped to build.
Yet Homestead city commissioners decided that was the perfect use for $3.5 million in federal funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. They voted 4-2 last night to hand the money to Rosen — who just happens to be a major campaign funder for most of the politicians on the panel.
Rosen hasn't responded to a message New Times left with his spokesperson (and we'll update this post if we do hear back). But he told the Miami Herald over the weekend that there was nothing wrong with using HUD money earmarked for re-invigorating downtrodden communities on his greenways.
The project in the Keys Gate neighborhood — an enclave in Homestead where Shores Development is an active builder — will create jobs that will help Homestead residents in less well-off parts of town, Rosen says.
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“We’re going to work hard to help train employees and will be advertising in the Homestead area,” Rosen told the daily.
Of course, the feds will still have to sign off on the plan, which may be a tougher sell outside of a city commission where the developer and his companies dropped $45,000 on four sitting politicians in the last election cycle. (One of whom, Jon Burgess, voted against the plan last night, in fairness).
HUD's program — called Section 108 — is meant to spur economic activity that specifically helps low or moderate-income residents.
Outside of Homestead's local political scene, Rosen is also a longtime top GOP fundraiser. As he notes on his website, he co-sponsored an annual President's Dinner cash-raising bonanza every year during George W. Bush's tenure in the White House.