Demi Busatta Cabrera files four funding requests to fix drinking water, improve trade, help seniors
Happy birthday to Demi Busatta Cabrera.

Demi Busatta Cabrera
The requests will contend with many others for a place in Florida's forthcoming budget.

Rep. Demi Busatta Cabrerra has filed a quartet of state funding requests for House District 114 to help senior citizens, enhance Miami-Dade County’s trade efficiency and shore up a municipal drinking water system.

Busatta Cabrera filed the four appropriation requests totaling $3.1 million Monday. If approved and included in Florida’s proposed budget of nearly $100 billion, they would all draw from the Florida General Revenue Fund on or after July 1.

One request, HB 9041, would set aside a one-time $1.75 million contribution to the taxpayer-funded Miami-Dade Homeless Trust’s plan to buy, renovate and add to Mia Casa, a 118-bed living facility in North Miami housing 65-and-older seniors and others experiencing homelessness.

The state money, which would be disbursed through the Florida Department of Children and Families, would match $5 million in federal funds the Miami-Dade Commission set aside from the county’s American Rescue Plan Act apportionment for the undertaking, dubbed “Project Silver.”

The project must be approved, paid for and delivered by fiscal 2023, according to an appropriations request from Homeless Trust Executive Director Victoria Mallette and the organization’s chair, lobbyist Ron Book.

Mia Casa began as one of several sites where the Trust placed seniors in the homeless population after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. It provides a full range of services, the request said, “including case management, health and behavioral health care, meals and accommodations.”

Those services are vital, the request said, citing a recent homeless survey conducted in August that found roughly 25% of people experiencing homelessness in Miami-Dade are 60 or older.

Another funding request, HB 9039, would chip in $100,000 for a program that delivers meals to homebound seniors in the city of West Miami.

The nonrecurring contribution, which would go through the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, would serve as a 50% match to funds the city is putting up for a $200,000 project to “provide a second meal for our most frail population,” an appropriations request from West Miami City Manager Yolanda Aguilar and lobbyist Mario Bailey of Gomez Barker Associates Inc. said.

The West Miami program currently provides between 65 and 100 at-home meals daily to its senior residents. The added funds would allow an additional meal per day to be delivered to each of those residents, many of whom struggle to pay rising costs for food and basic needs.

HB 9043 also concerns West Miami and would earmark $1 million in the state budget for the third phase of the city’s “Potable Water Improvement Project,” for which the state has allotted $350,000 in past budgets.

The new funding, which the Florida Department of Environmental Protection would disburse, is necessary to bring West Miami’s drinkable water system up to date, Aguilar and Bailey wrote in their appropriations request.

“The City’s current system is over 50 years old,” the request said. “(In) addition to being undersized to service the existing and projected population of the City, the system suffers from documented persistent leaks, as well as intermittent failures and ruptures causing disruptions in service, damage to infrastructure, and potential contamination.”

Of the new round of funding, $120,000 would pay for engineering services, designs and permitting. The remaining $880,000 would finance the construction of water main extensions in the city.

A study and resolution by the West Miami Commission supports the project, for which the Environmental Protection Department funded an analysis to identify deficiencies and develop a capital improvement plan.

The project, if approved, has an estimated completion date of Dec. 31, 2023. It would result in the reduction of an “estimated 150 million gallons of water that is wasted per year” and a “noticeable increase in water pressure for citizens.”

Busatta Cabrera’s last request in the bunch, HB 9045, contemplates a one-time $250,000 allocation to World Trade Center Miami, an international commerce-boosting nonprofit that plans to develop a “Florida Trade Assistance Center Export Database.”

The state contribution would cover all costs for the project, which would “create a database of all companies in Florida who export their goods and/or services overseas,” read an appropriations request from WTC Miami President and CEO Ivan Barrios and Mike Grissom, a lobbyist from Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney who is working to secure state funds.

In concept, the database would allow WTC Miami staff to match Florida companies with others participating in inbound trade missions to sell their goods and services.

“This will lead to increased sales, revenue, and potential new jobs created by the Florida companies,” said the request, which noted there has been no documented show of support for the project from the community and that no study of its possible impact was conducted.

Jesse Scheckner

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.


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