Last summer, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF)/ Healthy Housing Foundation announced a controversial project near downtown Fort Lauderdale for at-risk and working class residents. According to AHF, the proposed “low-income and affordable housing residential development campus” would be built to “specifically address the housing needs of low-income, and chronically ill individuals and families with a focus on sustainable SRO and rental-to-ownership models.” Dubbed “Trantalis Tower,” the proposed development failed to gain the support of local residents.
When Fort Lauderdale residents asked AHF CEO Michael Weinstein and other officials for specifics, they were labeled as uncaring bigots who did not care about the “affordable housing crisis” in Broward county. Many details of the project were vague including who would live at the campus, whether any social services would be provided on site and even the size and number of units.
AHF simply wanted Fort Lauderdale residents to trust them because they would use private funds to solve the “affordable housing crisis.”
3Ps: PURE POLITICS?
As REDBROWARD reported last week, AHF is desperately fighting a California bill addressing housing. A Healthy Housing Foundation mailer launched a racist attack on State Sen. Scott Wiener, the sponsor of SB50. The bill calls for the creation of “new zoning standards for constructing housing near job centers and public transportation, along with protections against the displacement of renters and vulnerable communities living in those areas.” Labeling the legislation as “gentrification,” AHF likened Wiener’s bill to “negro removal,” racist housing policies of the 1960s.
AHF’s tactics were vilified by local leaders and Democrat politicians. AHF CEO Michael Weinstein refused to apologize.
This week, AHF tried damage control. Claiming it “Boldly Tackles Housing Affordability Crisis.” AHF said, “The housing affordability crisis, which experts widely consider a serious public health threat, is another instance of AHF stepping up when others have not.”
After touting its Los Angeles housing projects, AHF finally revealed its true agenda:
T]hrough Housing Is A Human Right, AHF seeks to create policy change and push forward a people-first housing agenda known as the ‘3 Ps’: protect tenants; preserve communities; and produce housing. The 3 Ps directly confront a profits-over-people, trickle-down housing agenda pushed by the real estate industry and its political allies in government.
AHF thinks profit is bad. AHF thinks landlords and developers are villains.
“We must urgently address our housing affordability crisis by first helping those in most need,” said Housing Is A Human Right Director René Christian Moya. “That means creating policies and building housing for the middle- and working-class. They are bearing the brunt of excessive, unfair rents and harmful policymaking driven by the real estate industry, which includes corporate landlords and developers.”
AHF announced the “Rental Affordability Act,” a statewide rental control measure to be included on the California ballot in 2020.
Think south Florida is safe from rent control measures? Think again.
PUSH FOR LOCAL RENT CONTROL IN FLORIDA
Earlier this year, Florida State Rep. Anna Eskamani (D-Orlando) introduced a bill to overturn State prohibition of rent control measures. Eskamani wanted to allow local governments to institute rent controls to combat the “affordable housing crisis.”
“We know we have an affordable housing crisis in this state. And I’m a firm believer not just in home rule, but also as a legislature it is a responsibility to provide a tool kit of ideas and solutions to local government to solve this problem,” Eskamani said.
Rep. Carlos Smith, Eskamani’s fellow Democrat in the Florida House, filed another anti-landlord bill.
Both bills died in committee.
In 2017, Carlos Smith introduced legislation to “prohibit HMOs from classifying prescriptions for people living with HIV at the highest tier in regards to copays and deductibles.” One of the bill’s biggest backers was AHF.
“The Legislature should take seriously the affordability of HIV drugs if the state truly wants to achieve zero infections in Florida,” AHF official Jason King said. “These bills are about patients being able to afford the medications they need to live and thrive, and we at AHF are going to do everything we can to support…Representative Smith and their efforts around these bills.”
(REDBROWARD previously exposed the close ties between Jason King and Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis).
According to the report, “SFGN contacted Ida Eskamani, Smith’s legislative assistant said the bill has not been placed on the house health innovation subcommittee agenda.” The bill ultimately died in committee.
Ida Eskamani is the twin sister of Rep. Anna Eskamani. Currently, Ida Eskamani is the public policy director of the New Florida Majority (New FM), a progressive group behind “affordable housing” protests in Miami-Dade.
When will Fort Lauderdale leaders realize Trantalis Tower is a political ploy and not a solution to the homeless problem in Broward? Do they even care? Or, do they believe in rent control? Does Dean Trantalis view developers and landowners as the bad guys?