When Miami Commission Chair Keon Hardemon was told about people living in an apartment building with slum-like conditions, he went into action. The city sued the owner, took over the building, is renovating it with rents collected and improving the lives of the residents. “Those living conditions should not exist in the city of Miami,” Hardemon said.
Added to challenge of poverty in his district is escalating crime. Hardemon has said he plans to call in the federal government to fend off these acts of terrorism in his district.
Hardemon is the Miami Commission Chair and represents District 5, which includes Liberty City, Little Haiti, Allapattah, Brownsville and Overtown. He is the youngest Miami commissioner ever elected and now the youngest chairman. Hardemon is also chair of the Southeast Overtown/Park West Community Redevelopment Agency, whose goal is to revitalize the area with affordable housing and through business opportunity.
Many parts of Hardemon’s district are undergoing a Renaissance. Developers are bringing plans to build small communities within communities and Hardemon has to hang everything in the balance — accept what is good for his community and reject ideas he thinks will damage it.
Take for example, back in September, the city commission was ready to rezone a parcel of land into the Wynwood Neighborhood Revitalization District 1. Problem was, that new district encroached on Overtown. Angry residents gave commissioners an earful. At the end of the meeting, commissioner backed away from the rezoning, with Hardemon keeping a watchful eye on the redrawn lines.
By end of public comment, Hardemon reassured residents that he was protecting their interests. “We’re going to change it,” he said at the time.
For Hardemon, it’s all in the name of service, something he has been doing since attending middle school. It doesn’t hurt that he came from a family of public servants.
Hardemon is proud that he serves where he grew up. He used to live in the James E. Scott public housing development in Liberty City, and attended Miami-Dade County Public Schools, graduating from Miami Northwestern Senior High.
He said his mentor is anyone who is doing the right thing, and that’s why he mostly looks to God for examples. Every day he strives to be the “best Keon I could be and to do the best for the community while I have the opportunity.”