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Miami Herald - August 10, 2006

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Construction resumes on Carrfour housing facility
After some delays, an affordable housing facility for the formerly homeless planned for the North Beach area is back on track, and construction is set to begin this month.


After suffering construction setbacks, work is set to resume this month for a facility in North Beach that will provide housing for the formerly homeless.

Harding Village, to be located at what used to be the Paradise Inn at 8540 Harding Ave., may have tenants as soon as October.

The former motel will be converted into 92 single-room occupancies with 74 of those units for people who previously lived on the streets of Miami Beach.

Carrfour Supportive Housing, a nonprofit organization that develops housing for the homeless and disabled, had expected the doors at Harding Village to open in January. But after changing contractors, the project is now set to be fully completed and occupied in December.

Carrfour's interim CEO Stephanie Berman said the site will feature three residential buildings with two courtyards, a common space with a small computer room, a meeting room and a shuffleboard court. Construction is budgeted at $1.8 million, with funding for the facility coming from the county and the city of Miami.

Though Harding Village won't be finished until December, Berman said residents will start moving in sooner as each building is completed. The first building is scheduled to open in October.

''We have the folks ready to move in; we're just waiting for construction to be finished,'' she said.

The project met fierce opposition last year from some area residents who were concerned about its location directly across from St. Joseph's Elementary School. They argued the site was inappropriate because it would place children in proximity with individuals recovering from alcoholism and drug addiction. Carrfour officials assured them that as condition of leasing at Harding Village, residents must remain sober and face random drug testing. Anyone with a record for violent crime would not be eligible for Harding Village, they added.

In November, the city's Planning Board approved a conditional-use permit for the facility that would allow it to provide support to its residents on-site. The permit also allowed the agency to create 92 independent units instead of 46 larger apartments.

The approval included conditions on the project as well, including a perimeter fence, security cameras and 24-hour on-site staffing.