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Public Land for Public Good

Statement of Values

The cost and availability of land is frequently identified as a barrier to affordable housing and community development. Meanwhile, housing costs in Miami-Dade County continue to increase, making it unaffordable for close to half of its residents. Small businesses, non-profits, as well as community amenities and services are also affected by the increasing cost of living and diminishing disposable income for the majority of Miami-Dade County residents. Communities often feel as if they are reacting to new development and displacement pressures on a case-by-case basis. This is particularly of concern in low-income and communities of color, which have long been shut out of opportunities for meaningful, community-led economic development. A recent study entitled, “The Color of Wealth in Miami,” points out that “racial wealth disparities are enormous and persistent, rooted from the country’s inception with profound intergenerational effects.” The Ohio State University, Duke University, and the Insight Center for Community Economic Development, The Color of Wealth in Miami (February 2019). This study underscores the importance of community investment and identifying a long-term strategy for the use of publicly-owned vacant or underused land for the benefit of the community.

The recent unveiling of LAND: The Land Access for Neighborhood Development, a tool developed by the University of Miami’s Office of Civic and Community Engagement, demonstrated that there is approximately 500 million square feet of publicly-owned vacant or underused land scattered throughout Miami-Dade County. LAND: Land Access for Neighborhood Development, The LAND tool presents a unique opportunity for entities to coordinate public resourcesfor the benefit of the community. This tool has become available as our communities face an unprecedented and growing threat of displacement from various fronts. Residents feel the burden of unaffordability ever more acutely when Opportunity Zones are ushering in new incentives for speculation, sea level rise is shifting the real estate market, and the demographics of cultural neighborhoods are changing drastically. In the face of these pressures, the disposition of publicly-owned land should be guided by the following core values:


  • Public land should be used, in part, to address the affordability crisis. It should be targeted to those most cost-burdened, from extremely low income to moderate income households. (Those living at or below 30% AMI up to 80% AMI. Miami-Dade County Public Housing and Community Development:Income Limits,;Statistical Atlas data based on 2010 US Census & 2015-16 American Community Survey.)
  • Public land should be used to minimize displacement and ensure residents have the right to remain, if they so choose, in the communities they built. This includes incentivizing models that ensure permanent and long-term affordability, such as Community Land Trusts and other equitable development strategies.
  • Public land use should balance the need for increased density and the preservation of unique characteristics of our neighborhoods.
  • Public land use should aid in the research and development of techniques and technologies that make construction more affordable.

Resiliency & Strategic Locations:

  • Public land use must take into account rising seas and the urgent need to build a more climate-resilient county. The New York Times, Detailed Maps Show How Neighborhoods Shape Children for Life, October 1, 2018. The resiliency and environmental sustainability of new or rehabilitated structures should be a core concern.
  • Use of public land for green space and flood mitigation, public gardens, and parks should be prioritized and considered in conjunction with community development plans.
  • Land disposition and use should prevent climate gentrification, the displacement of small businesses and low-income residents from high-ground neighborhoods to less climate-resilient areas. Zoning rules and other local laws should be crafted to enable this objective.
  • Disposition should encourage transit-oriented development by coordinating resources between the County and nearby municipalities, by facilitating the increase in density, (where appropriate) and by developing at or near areas of opportunity to leverage access to transit, jobs, green space, schools, grocery stores, pharmacies, and health clinics.

Community Engagement:

  • Community stakeholders, including home-owners, renters, and small business owners, must be at the table.
  • Implement an authentic community education process so that communities can determine what they want in their backyards and craft a community-informed plan for land use with pilot/implementation steps;
  • Community benefit policies must be incorporated into disposition processes to ensure equity and that all parts of our community can thrive.

Systemic Interventions:

  • Engage in inter-governmental and inter-institutional collaboration for assemblage of land that benefits low-income communities and communities of color.
  • Provide a transparent, equitable and accountable process for the conveyance of land, including set-asides of certain parcels for non-profit and mission-aligned developers whose projects are community-led and meet the needs of the community.
  • Improve the permitting process to lower the cost of construction and speed up development timelines.
  • Invest in community control, economic sustainability, ownership and generational wealth for low-income communities and communities of color.

In order to support these values, we urge the prioritization of legislation focused on equitable development, environmental justice and a systematic restorative rights framework. We ask for more consistent and strategic public land disposition processes, as outlined above, which we believe will better serve all our communities while reducing vacancy and blight, and adding to our tax rolls.


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Neighborhood Housing Services of South Florida

Embracing World Class Art to Change Communities

Miami Beach, Florida:  Neighborhood Housing Services of South Florida (NHSSF) announces its 40th anniversary celebration “Celebrating the Past/Embracing the Vision” with international artist and designer Jeroen Koolhaas.


What:        Celebrating 40 years of affordable housing and community development services to

South Florida.


When:        Thursday, March 21, 2019; 6:30PM-9:30PM


Where:       The Bass Museum, 2100 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach, valet parking available


Who:          Jeroen Koolhaas, Marietta Rodrigues, President and CEO of NeighborWorks

America; the Honorable Daryl Jones, Board Chairman and former Florida Senator


The keynote presenter, Jeroen Koolhaas, Dutch artist and designer, for over a decade has contributed to the resilience of marginalized communities through creating art, designing, teaching young and old to paint, and employing local community members, to beautify neighbors. He builds trust and community ownership of these projects through consultation and involving the people in telling their stories through highly visible images and colors designed for the buildings and streets in their neighborhoods.  These are most often multi-year projects requiring co-founders of to reside in these communities intermittently for several years, returning to update the artwork, to deepen the relationships established during the project and its contribution to community sustainability.  Favela Painting’s work has included creating art in Rio de Janeiro, Port au Prince, Curacao, Miami and North Philadelphia.


Architecture, patterns, textures, color and music are integral to his work. Hip Hop and jazz music have inspired and informed his work. Koolhaas has delivered Ted Talks on his work with communities and has been commissioned to create designs and illustrations for Prada and The New Yorker magazine.

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Orlando Homeownership to Get $6.3 Million Boost

NeighborhoodLIFT program will offer homebuyer education plus $15,000 down payment assistance grants available for eligible homebuyers in Lake, Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties; special parameters for veterans, military, teachers and first responders.


ORLANDO, Fla. – Nov. 14, 2018 – Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE:WFC), NeighborWorks® America, Orlando Neighborhood Improvement Corporation (ONIC), and Neighborhood Housing Services of South Florida (NHSSF) today announced the NeighborhoodLIFT® program will launch for  Lake, Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties with a $6.3 million commitment by Wells Fargo to boost local homeownership.

“The City of Orlando is committed to ensuring that our residents have access to safe, high-quality housing they can afford, and a key piece of this is to develop new policies and partnerships that remove barriers for residents who would like to pursue the American dream of homeownership,” said Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer. “That is why we are pleased to welcome Wells Fargo’s NeighborhoodLIFT program to Orlando. Through NeighborhoodLIFT, residents may qualify for down payment assistance grants and educational and counseling services that can help them achieve the goal of owning a home.”

The 2018 Orlando NeighborhoodLIFT program follows the 2012 program that created 205 homeowners in the greater Orlando area. Overall, Wells Fargo has conducted 65 LIFT program events in the U.S. since 2012 that have created nearly 19,000 homeowners.


Registration opens today for free event in Orlando Nov. 30–Dec. 1

Interested homebuyers may register beginning today, at to attend the free event on Friday, Nov. 30, from 10 a.m. – 7 p.m. and on Saturday, Dec. 1, from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. at the DoubleTree Hilton SeaWorld, located at 10100 International Dr., Orlando. Walk-ins also are welcome while grants are available for reservation. 

To learn more about the eligibility requirements, visit or call 866-858-2151. Participating homebuyers can obtain mortgage financing from any participating lender, and  ONIC and NHSSF will administer the grants, determine eligibility, and provide homebuyer and financial education. Approved homebuyers will have up to 60 days to finalize a contract to purchase a home in Lake, Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties.

“The NeighborhoodLIFT program is another example of our commitment to Central Florida and our efforts to build better communities through sustainable homeownership,” said Derek Jones, Wells Fargo North Central Florida region bank president. “The program will help hardworking families and individuals get on the path to achieve successful and sustainable homeownership.”

To be eligible, annual incomes must not exceed 80 percent of the local area median income in the county where the home is being purchased to reserve $15,000 down payment assistance grants. In addition, there are special parameters for veterans and service members, teachers, law enforcement officers, firefighters and emergency medical technicians who may reserve $17,500 down payment assistance grants within eligibility requirements including earning up to 100 percent of the area median income.

In addition, Wells Fargo has committed $225,000 for up to 450 consumers to receive complimentary face-to-face homeownership counseling. Interested homebuyers can receive a voucher at the Orlando NeighborhoodLIFT launch event that will provide in-person homeownership counseling at no charge with a participating HUD-approved housing counselor in the Orlando area. The complimentary Home Ownership Counseling grant program is an additional resource tos the homebuyer education required for a NeighborhoodLIFT down payment assistance grant.

“This innovative public-private collaboration will create about 325 more homeowners in the greater Orlando area,” said Donald Phoenix, regional vice president, Southern region, NeighborWorks America. “The required homebuyer education classes provided by certified professionals better prepare NeighborhoodLIFT homebuyers to achieve their goal of sustainable homeownership.”

Approved homebuyers must be approved for home financing with an eligible lender and be in contract to purchase a home in Lake, Orange, Osceola or Seminole County. To reserve the full grant amount, participants buying a primary residence with the NeighborhoodLIFT program must commit to live in the home for five years.

“The NeighborhoodLIFT program will provide homebuyer education and down payment assistance to help families become homeowners,” said Robert Ansley, president of ONIC. “We are excited to team up with Wells Fargo and NeighborWorks America to make this opportunity available for so many deserving families.”

Since February 2012, LIFT programs have helped create nearly 19,000 homeowners in 65 communities. A video about the NeighborhoodLIFT program is posted on Wells Fargo Stories.


About ONIC, NHSSF and NeighborWorks America

Orlando Neighborhood Improvement Corporation (ONIC) has been developing affordable housing in Central Florida since 1989. Neighborhood Housing Services of South Florida has worked to strengthen communities and create affordable housing for over 30 years. Both organizations are chartered members of NeighborWorks America, a national organization that creates opportunities for people to live in affordable homes, improve their lives and strengthen their communities. NeighborWorks America supports a network of more than 245 nonprofits, located in every state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Visit,, or to learn more.


About Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE: WFC) is a diversified, community-based financial services company with $1.9 trillion in assets. Wells Fargo’s vision is to satisfy our customers’ financial needs and help them succeed financially. Founded in 1852 and headquartered in San Francisco, Wells Fargo provides banking, investment and mortgage products and services, as well as consumer and commercial finance, through 7,950 locations, 13,000 ATMs, the internet ( and mobile banking, and has offices in 37 countries and territories to support customers who conduct business in the global economy. With approximately 262,000 team members, Wells Fargo serves one in three households in the United States. Wells Fargo & Company was ranked No. 26 on Fortune’s 2018 rankings of America’s largest corporations. News, insights and perspectives from Wells Fargo are also available at Wells Fargo Stories.


Media Contacts:

Gabriela Lambertus, 305-619-8898