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A look at a CEPODS concept with bathrooms and air conditioning units. (📸: Courtesy of CEPODS)
Repurposed shipping containers have become a popular option for everything from pop-up events to street markets. Folks are even using them as alternative housing. They’ve been set up in places like Omni Park and the Wynwood Yard, and now a local company is considering the containers for a more radical use: housing the homeless.
CEPODS is the brainchild of Tian Mao, who saw our unsheltered population – aka people living on the street, without access to a shelter – stubbornly stuck at about 1,000 people for the past few years. He’s hoping containers will provide a cheaper, more adaptable solution that can get them off the streets faster.
WHAT IT IS: Tian started CEPODS back in 2011, after years of working in real estate. He sees containers as a smaller-scale fix for issues like affordable housing, programming space for events, and for dealing with homelessness.
CEPODS is already working with the Opa-locka Community Development Corporation in their Thrive Innovation District to build a container market for merchants and farmers working out of Opa-locka’s Thrive Urban Farm.
WHERE THE IDEA CAME FROM: Tian has lived in SoFlo since 2002, most of that time living in Miami Beach. He says that when he would drive around and see abandoned properties and homeless people, he felt like there was a missed opportunity.
“We’ve got enough land in this town to do it,” Tian said. “Take a piece of land and end the blight on this block.”
So he began reaching out to organizations like the Downtown Development Authority and building officials at the county and city level to explore whether some of that land could house shipping containers to use as short-term shelters.
WHAT IT TAKES: Building a stock of about 10 to 15 containers takes between $2 and $3 million to build. Tian says they plan to keep costs low by using recycled materials for things like hurricane impact windows and furniture.
Each container would be about 320 square feet and hold four to six beds, bunk style. The plan is to set them up on a lot, with a communal kitchen and bathroom area, hostel-style.
Tian compares his model, which could house up to about 50 people, to multi-year housing projects that can cost millions. A newly renovated project at Camillus House that opened last year, for example, cost about $8 million to build and can house up to 100 people.
HOW HE’LL GET STARTED: Tian said he’s looking at available county-owned properties – particularly blighted or undeveloped properties. There’s more than 600 vacant properties owned by the county and CEPODS hopes to find spaces where additional development can happen around their containers.
WHAT NEXT: Tian said he has most of the resources he needs for building the homeless shelter containers but still needs to lock down a location and perfect the designs.
He and the team hope to do that and start work with engineers in the next three months so they can start shopping the shelter project to local organizations and county officials in the fall. CEPODS hopes to have an installation in place by the beginning of next year.
And Tian recognizes that CEPODS could never fully replace larger shelters.
“I’m not saying we’re the only solution,” Tian said. “I’m not thinking of how to improve a homeless shelter. I’m just looking to give [the homeless] their own place.”
WHAT'S NEW IN THE 305
Zero chill. If you had any doubts about whether we’re obsessed with the World Cup in SoFlo, leave ‘em here. According to the latest Nielsen ratings, we’re No. 1 in viewership among U.S. television markets for Telemundo, and No. 2 for the English-language coverage on Fox. We left second-place market L.A. in the dust. (Miami Herald)
Mystery solved. The sleuths at the Miami Herald tracked down the dynamic duo that shocked Miamians this week when a video went viral of Patresha Isidore driving in the I-95 Express lane with her ex-boyfriend, Junior Francis, on the hood of the car. Apparently Patresha needed to go pick up their daughter, and Junior, who wanted to take the car himself, jumped on the hood to stop her. Patresha did not have time for that foolishness and got on the highway. Apparently that phone call you can see Junior making in the video is to the cops. (Miami Herald)
Not worth it. Miami-Dade County Commissioners decided not to even bother putting two amendments on the November ballot that would have ended term limits and given them a raise. They did that because they had no confidence that voters would approve either. Back in 2012, voters approved the two-term limit that exists today, and also rejected commissioners’ request for a $6,000 raise. (Miami Herald)
Nope nope nope. Local facial recognition software company Kairos took a stand against government use of their software and similar technology in an op-ed this week. CEO Brian Brackeen, who based his company here in the 305 and is a big hype man for the Miami tech scene, said that the use of commercial facial recognition software in law enforcement and government surveillance “opens the door for gross misconduct by the morally corrupt.” “There is no place in America for facial recognition that supports false arrests and murder,” Brackeen wrote. (TechCrunch)
Flip flop. Early on in the Trump administration, the Department of the Interior – still led by an Obama appointee at that point – warned Miami-Dade County that extending the Dolphin Expressway across our wetlands would endanger efforts to restore the Everglades. But only three months later, under new leadership appointed by President Trump, the department sent another letter, this time saying they might be totally okay with a plan to pave over part of the Everglades and that they were reviewing the regulations that might block it. That makes federal approval of the project more likely. (Miami Herald)
Smokin’. John Morgan, the wealthy Orlando attorney who helped bankroll the campaign to legalize medical marijuana in 2016, is now looking to legalize recreational marijuana in 2020. If it gets on the ballot, it will require 60 percent of the vote statewide to be approved. That’s probably going to be a hard sell, but with Morgan (and his money) behind the effort, it’s looking at least a little bit more likely. (Miami New Times)
Drool. This dive into Florida’s long-running sandwich war doesn’t settle the debate over whether Miami or Tampa is home to the best Cuban sandwich in the U.S., nor does it settle the debate over whether salami belongs in a proper Cuban sandwich or not, but it does make us want to hop in our car and drive to Tampa to do a taste test, then come back to the 305 and hit up all the local favorites to decide for ourselves. (The Local Palate)
OUR PARTNER EVENTS
🎸Jam at a pop-up barbecue (Brickell)
🍷 Learn all about vino on this wine walk (Coral Gables)
🧘 Meditate at Vizcaya (Coconut Grove)
🎹 Dance it out with Afrobeta (Wynwood)
💉 Donate blood with the Miami tech community (Brickell)
👞 Mr. Rogers documentary opens (Wynwood)
🎧 Jam with some of SoFlo’s best beatmakers (Liberty City)
🍺 Pick up trash and pub crawl (Wynwood)
🍹 Party after hours at The Bass (South Beach)
📚 Explore the legacy of slavery at this book talk (Coral Gables)
☕ Talk craft at Creative Mornings, ft. Franklin Sirmans (Design District)
✊ March to keep families together (Downtown)
😋 Celebrate the deliciousness of the lychee at this food festival (Homestead)
🤾Let your inner kid out at adult recess (South Beach)
🤣 The ladies take over Just the Funny (Coral Gables)
🥁 Get down at Reggae Sundays (Wynwood)
🥡Enjoy a Cuban-Vietnamese food mashup (Upper East Side)
🧘 Drink beer and do yoga (Little River)
🎶Put some soul in your Monday (Downtown)
🎸Catch the Wynwood Trio at the train station (Downtown)
🍺Learn about brews (Wynwood)
🍷Pop wine and beer bottles with Wynwood Brewing (Wynwood)
🎸Get down like it’s a Friday night at Las Rosas (Allapattah)
🍺Get your 4th of July party started early with Suenalo (Wynwood)
🏃Plog along and turn your kicks into a planter (Buena Vista)
Going to one of these? Take us with you! Email a pic to [email protected] or tag #thenewtropic on Instagram. See more upcoming events on our events page, and add your own events with New Tropic membership.
THAT’S ALL FOR TODAY
We’ll catch you mañana. 👋
– The New Tropic