Miami New Times 05-05-2016 : Page 9

Forced Out from p8 in an old facility,” she says. “We want to build an absolutely gorgeous, open space that doesn’t require clients to dumb down or be was a 15-minute walk from home, which dis-serviced or have a dreary environment.” Rey enjoyed. She liked the community, the But Delgado says it will be diffi-company, and the services, so she began cult — if not traumatic — for seniors to to make it a regular part of her routine. adjust to a new routine. He’s still wait-Around the same time, Delgado — now ing for word on how the county plans the center’s director — also began visiting De to transport them miles away every day Hostos, bringing his parents in the mornings for services for more than two years. and picking them up at night. Delgado was “All day long, they ask me: ‘When are we then working to help elders with AIDS. In 1998, he took a job as a part-time social worker moving? How are we getting there? Who will go where?’ ” Delgado says. “When you’re used at the center, but a few years later, he left Mi-to a routine and you’re older, it’s very stress-ami for Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C. ful. For them, this is like losing their house.” “Wynwood was not a safe area back More important, many of the elderly fear then,” the 60-year-old remembers. “Below the center’s closure means the end of Wyn-29th, the area was not safe. It looked aban-wood as they know it. During a town-hall doned; you didn’t want to cross over there.” meeting with city and county officials late That all changed in the mid-to late 2000s, last year, seniors expressed fear that they when investors and muralists transformed won’t be around when the center reopens. In Wynwood into a vibrant arts district. As gal-a once-low-income area, a Ducati motorcycle leries moved in nearby, De Hostos continued shop now stands across the street. The last serving lunches and offering basic program-remaining industrial holdout on Wynwood’s ming to local seniors. But warning signs were main strip, a plumbing supply company also already coming that the center was in danger. across the street On December 20, 2014, Delgado — who from De Hostos, was working as a grant reviewer in D.C. — last year sold for got a call from the president of De Hostos’ “THERE’S $41.5 million. board. The county was ready to close the NO SOCIAL Early last year, program, the president told him, because CONSCIOUSNESS Rey also found of funding shortfalls. An audit had turned ABOUT THIS out her build-up some 55 financial deficiencies. It hadn’t AND NOBODY ing on Biscayne been paying its meal company for months. FIGHTING Boulevard would “They told me: ‘If you take the job, we’ll be demolished hold on closing,’ ” Delgado remembers. Less FOR IT.” to make way than a month later, he started. “I felt this place for condo towers. Desperate for hous-was special for the community, and it was im-portant to me because my parents went there.” ing on her fixed income, she asked the De Hostos community for help and connected Since then, Delgado has turned De Hos-with a Dominican man whose sister had a tos around. Before he returned in 2014, an room for $660 a month. She and her Chi-average of 20 people ate lunch there. Now huahua, Ginny Rose, moved last July. there are 100 most days. The center offers Some see the closure of the cur-a full calendar, with courses ranging from rent De Hostos location as a symptom fitness and nutrition to stress reduction and of this same trend and wonder why the computers. Seniors can apply for a driver’s county cannot simply make upgrades license, check out library books, and seek to the building instead of razing it. advice and counseling. Every day, dozens “I’m really worried about the displace-of men play dominoes in front of the build-ment here,” Echaverria says. “These ing, buzzing with chatter and laughter. places have a social history that’s be-“This man is a god,” Javier Echaverria, ing destroyed an d displaced for the new a painter and filmmaker from Cuba, says of rich. There’s no social consciousness Delgado. “He does so many amazing things about this and nobody fighting for it.” for the community. He’s a true local hero.” Davis-Raiford says the county “abso-Adds Rey: “They brought him to lift it lutely” plans to reestablish the De Hostos up. He’s really helping the older people.” program, along with other services, in the Many of the seniors at De Hostos are new community center. Renderings of the Puerto Rican and Cuban, but there are also facility show a multistory modern build-Colombians, Haitians, Dominicans, Central ing with a high-ceilinged open atrium Americans, and African-Americans. Nearly area and covered patio space. She says she all reacted with shock when the news came hopes it will serve the entire community. last Thanksgiving: Despite the center’s For now, life goes on at De Hostos, which newfound energy, the county was going the county says will need to be shut down by ahead with plans to destroy the building. the end of May. After lunch, Rey sits down “It is one of our many crumbling fa-before a man and a woman practicing songs cilities,” the county’s Davis-Raiford says. for an upcoming Mother’s Day concert. “The county approved renovation of that They sing a bolero, a slow-tempo, nostalgic-site because it sorely needs it. Sorely.” sounding Latin ballad. “It sounds beautiful,” According to Davis-Raiford, the build-Rey tells them, “absolutely beautiful.” ing, which was built in 1954, has structural These may be some of the last bo-problems and is “dark and dank.” The county is reviewing design proposals for a new build-leros at De Hostos for a while. “From what I understand, the politi-ing and plans to spend $12 million. During cians are going to help us when we have to construction for the next two years, three move,” Rey says. “It’s going to be difficult, temporary senior centers will open in Little but that’s just the way it goes, I guess.” Haiti, Allapattah, and Little Havana. Davis-Raiford says she understands the change Jessica.Weiss@MiamiNewTimes.com may be disruptive. “But we can’t have them miaminewtimes.com MAY miaminewtimes.com | CONTENTS | LETTERS | RIPTIDE | METRO | NIGHT+DAY | STAGE | ART | FILM | CAFE | MUSIC | | Contents | Letters | riptide | Metro | night+day | stage | art | FiLm | CaFe | musiC | 2 FOR 1 ADMISSION TO PARTICIPATING MUSEUMS View the following participants’ special offers at MiamiMuseumMonth.com * PARTICIPANTS • Ancient Spanish Monastery • Art Deco Museum • ArtCenter/South Florida • Bakehouse Art Complex • Bass Museum of Art • Black Archives Historic Lyric Theater • Black Police Precinct & Courthouse Museum • Coral Gables Museum • Deering Estate • Gold Coast Railroad Museum • Haitian Heritage Museum • HistoryMiami Museum • Holocaust Memorial Miami Beach • Homestead Historic Town Hall Museum • Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami (ICA) • Jewish Museum of Florida – FIU • Little Haiti Cultural Complex • Lowe Art Museum, University of Miami • MDC Museum of Art + Design (MDC MOA+D) • Miami Auto Museum • Miami Children’s Museum • Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami • Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum • Pérez Art Museum Miami • Vizcaya Museum and Gardens • Wings Over Miami Air Museum • The Wolfsonian – FIU MIAMI NEW TIMES M ONTH XX–M ONTH XX, 2008 MiaMi New TiMes *To print required coupons and for details on great hotel and restaurant offers, please visit MiamiMuseumMonth.com. 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