"Welcome to Little Haiti" mural. Photo by: Ashley Miznazi

MIAMI – About $6M promised to foster, preserve and develop the Little Haiti community through the Little Haiti Revitalization Trust has been on hold awaiting staff to be approved to activate the funds. Last week, city officials approved Dufirstson Julio “D.J.” Neree as interim president/CEO for six months.

The interim president’s salary is $90,000 with benefits.

Photo of Dufirstson Julio “D.J.” Neree from his LinkedIn page

The money donated by the Magic City Innovation District development group intends to help existing shops and homeowners stay in Little Haiti. The funds help residents become homeowners, pay less in rent or secure entrepreneurial grants. The CEO’s role would be to provide general supervision, management and operation of all the trust’s activities and facilities

According to Neree’s resume shared in the board of directors application for the Little Haiti Revitalization Fund, he is managing director and business lawyer at MLK Public Interest Law Offices.

Neree, a Miami native who resides in Little Haiti, serves as president and CEO of the Martin Luther King Economic Development Corporation, a nonprofit that combats food insecurity and helps finance cars for District 5 members who experience transportation insecurity. 

Previously, Neree worked for the Inter-American Development Bank. He later served as representative for IDB Group Haiti after the 2010 earthquake.

Neree is also involved with, among others, the City of Miami Code Enforcement Board, City Miami Nuisance Abatement Board, Legal Services of Greater Miami and Catholic Charities Legal Services.

Correction: The story has been updated to reflect that Dufirstson Julio “D.J.” Neree was voted to be appointed by the City Commission for the City of Miami on Oct. 13. The resolution approving Neree as president was grouped with resolutions to move forward and confused with city officials discussing resolutions moved to Oct. 27.

Ashley Miznazi is a Report for America corps member covering the Haitian community in the South Florida/Miami area for The Haitian Times. Her work will heavily feature photography, video and other multimedia storytelling. Previously, Ashley was a multimedia fellow at The Texas Tribune, where she reported on DACA, Afghan resettlement and the foster care system.

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