Housing activists set up camp in Liberty Cityyou can support "take back the land" by signing their online petition.
Protesters angry at a lack of affordable housing set up a tent camp on cityowned land in Liberty City.
A group of activists pitched camp in the heart of Liberty City on Monday to protest what they called the failure of the city and Miami-Dade County to build affordable housing.
Carrying tents, tarps and banners that read, ''Take back the Land!,'' the group said it was building a shantytown on a vacant, city-owned lot to house hundreds of the neighborhood's homeless.
''The government is an active part of the problem,'' said Max Rameau, spokesman for the Center for Pan-African Development, an activist organization. ``The city and the county have no interest in housing poor black people, so we will do it ourselves.''
About 40 people gathered at the corner of Northwest 62nd Street and 17th Avenue. As they pitched tents and served soup on the trash-strewn lot, passersby stopped to look.
Among them was 20-year-old Roderick Mitchell, a former resident of the Scott/Carver Homes. Mitchell said he and his sister have lived with relatives since their section of the huge housing complex closed in 2004.
Mitchell said he planned to join the group camping out Monday night.
''This statement can help,'' Mitchell said, gesturing at the activity around him.
But Rameau, one of the key organizers, said his intention is not simply to make a statement. The group, including members of Hope for the Homeless and Hopeless and the Fort Lauderdale chapter of Food Not Bombs, intends to provide shelter and food indefinitely, Rameau said.
The group did not notify the city of its intention to take over the lot.
Several city police cruisers -- including one carrying Neighborhood Enhancement Team administrator Von Carol Kinchens -- drove up about 30 minutes after the activists converged on the lot.
The officers warned the protesters they could face arrest but then left.
''As long as there's no criminal activity, we're just letting them vent out,'' said William Moreno, a department spokesman.
Rameau said the group is protected by a landmark legal case, Pottinger v. City of Miami, a class-action suit filed by the ACLU and settled in 1998.
The settlement prohibited Miami police from arresting homeless people engaged in ''life-sustaining conduct'' -- such as sleeping or eating -- on public property when there is no shelter space available.
The people who set up camp on the lot should remain in the clear legally as long as they don't obstruct traffic or damage property, said Ray Taseff, an attorney affiliated with the Miami ACLU.
''I really can't see how the city can argue around it,'' Taseff said of the Pottinger settlement. ``The police did the right thing today.''
FIU to Negotiate Health Insurance Plan for Adjunct Faculty, Temporary and Contract Workers
This innovative plan, which is the latest in a series of progressive human resources initiatives adopted in recent months, would need to carry an affordable price tag for the insured and be portable. The Invitation to Negotiate (ITN) is open to all insurance companies doing business in Florida.
"We hope to serve as the conduit that would enable our employees and the employees of our small business partners access to affordable health care through group rates," said Senior Vice President Vivian Sanchez. "The idea is to structure plans and negotiate rates which individuals or small companies could not otherwise afford."
The university would then give more than 2,000 individuals direct access to these deals. Some of the potential beneficiaries are adjunct faculty members and other temporary/part-time employees of the university (sometimes referred to as OPS) who are not covered by regular university benefits. Others work at FIU as janitors, grounds keepers, bus drivers, and security personnel but who don't have access to health care plans because they are not FIU employees, but rather are employed by university contractors who often do not offer health benefits.
Sanchez said the idea builds on innovative plans already in place at other institutions but would, for the first time, be available to contractors. The plan is expected to be in place by January of 2007.
"This plan has great potential for success because it addresses the needs of the temporary employees and contracted workers while working within the public university's fiscal limitations," said Sanchez, who also serves as the university's CFO.
"I'm proud of this move," said Faculty Senate Chair Bruce Hauptli. "We are taking the lead here as we endeavor to become known as an 'employer of choice' concerned with the well-being of all our employees and with those who work on our campuses and enrich our community."
Three years ago, the state granted its universities the authority to negotiate contracts, determine employee benefits and establish terms and conditions of employment. This process, typically referred to as devolution, set in motion a series of changes, including new human resources practices. Since that process started, many employees have gained benefits, better working conditions and higher pay. Also as part of this process, long-term FIU employees are being offered the opportunity to convert from temporary to permanent employment with full benefits. A plan is being developed for this transition.
FIU employees enjoy human resources policies that have been recognized for Progressive Workplace Innovations at the national level by the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources. In addition to traditional benefits such as paid leave, life insurance and retirement plans, FIU Employees have employee and family tuition waivers, paid personal development and flex-time and flex-place options.
"Our philosophy is to afford the entire FIU family the best possible working conditions," said FIU President Modesto A. Maidique. "Our Board of Trustees has clearly encouraged us to put in place contemporary, progressive measures in all areas of the institution. These actions get us closer to that goal."
For more information on the ITN visit http://www.fiu.edu/%7Epurchase/cbid.htm.