Odebrecht-OHL and Rebuilding Together Miami Link Up to Repair Homes Near Airportlink Metrorail Extension

November 16, 2010

Story from Justnews.com (WPLG Channel 10 News, Miami)

Richardson & Smith's renovated home. Photo from Justnews.com

MIAMI -- A construction company working on a Metrorail project in Miami-Dade has partnered with a nonprofit organization to help improve the homes in the area.

Charles Richardson and Shakevia Smith have a unique perspective of the Airport Link, a project to extend the Metrorail to Miami International Airport. Her house sits right under the project. His is a block away.

"I've lived here probably about 30, 32 years," said Richardson.

Richardson and Smith knew the four years of construction would change their everyday lives, but they never dreamed its effects would be permanent.

Smith said that before the project, her 1930s-era home looked "like no one really lived here." She had holes in her roof, termites eating away at the floor and four kids living there. Smith said her 2-year-old son was afraid of running around.

"He used to take his little steps because he probably thought he was going to fall through the floor," she said.

Richardson spent two months in a hospital with swollen hands from an allergic reaction to bees. He said he did not have the energy to fix up the home he bought more than 30 years ago.

"I'm a carpenter. I used to do everything myself, but as things get older, start slowing down, things start falling apart," Richardson said.

Then, someone knocked on Richardson's door and offered him help.

"We're looking for a gesture of goodwill from the ones that can provide something for the ones that need help," said Paulo Brito, of Odebrecht Construction.

Odebrecht, which is building the Airport Link, partnered with the nonprofit organization Rebuilding Together and offered to fix up the homes in the Brownsville area.

"Bring the house back to safety. Bring them more comfort," Brito said.

After the renovations, Smith said her home looks "a whole lot different." The upgrades are more practical than flashy, but both Richard and Smith called them, "a dream come true."

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