4
| Columns |

Troubled Homestead Nonprofit Seeks Private Donations to Pay Debt

^
Keep New Times Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Miami and help keep the future of New Times free.

Galata Inc., a Homestead social service agency that received a no-questions-asked $500,000 county grant in 2008 to pay off a mortgage, is now seeking private donations to help pay down another loan. In January, the Miami-Dade Inspector General's Office criticized Galata officials for misusing $99,000 from the grant to pay debts to the Internal Revenue Service and other administrative expenses.

However, the Miami-Dade budget office and Galata's executive director, Joseph Louis, insisted the nonprofit group was allowed to use the grant money for expenses related to settling the mortgage. Now, Louis is desperately seeking funds so Galata doesn't lose its more than 5,000-square-foot recreational center at 916 N. Flagler Ave. in Homestead.

See also:
- A Homestead Non-Profit Used Taxpayer Funds To Pay Off IRS Debts, Auditor Says.
- Homestead Nonprofit's Leader Disputes County Audit Claiming He Misused Taxpayer Funds.

In an email sent to supporters March 26, Louis wrote, "Please, please we really need your financial donation to help reduce or pay off this $318,000 mortgage. Anything is better than nothing."

Though a foreclosure complaint against Galata has not been filed, Miami-Dade County Clerk records show the nonprofit agency is having some financial trouble. Last year, the IRS filed two liens against Galata for not paying $17,000 in taxes. Previously, Galata used part of its 2008 grant to pay $77,307 to the IRS. The Inspector General's Office concluded Galata was supposed to use only the $500,000 to pay off its first mortgage.

Instead, the social service agency, which serves low-income people in Homestead and Florida City, used the grant money as collateral to obtain a new mortgage that now has Louis running to donors to pay it off.

In an interview with Banana Republican earlier this month, Louis insisted he did nothing wrong. "I didn't put any money in my pockets," he said. "It all went back to Galata. I didn't misuse any funds."

Follow Francisco Alvarado on Twitter: @thefrankness

Follow Miami New Times on Facebook and Twitter @MiamiNewTimes.

Keep Miami New Times Free... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.

 

Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Miami.

 

Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Miami.