Opa-Locka community of Cordoba Courts has seen a decrease in gun violence, but some residents still feel unsafe

After an increase of gun violence in the Opa-Locka community of Cordoba Courts during January, officials at the company that owns these apartments said they have taken steps to reduce the issues.

But for many, changes aren’t happening fast enough. A 72-year-old Cuban woman, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because she is afraid that someone will retaliate against her, said the complex owned by Millenia Housing Management is often violent and frightening.

“I live in a violent neighborhood where two months ago two people died due to a shooting,” she said. “Thankfully since those events took place, my husband and I have seen a decrease in gun violence. The last shooting, I heard occurred a month ago about 5:40 a.m., but nothing else has happened since then.”

Still, she said more changes should be made to improve safety.

“I think the lease office should focus more on penalizing those people that do not comply with the lease contract,” she said. “It is not right that some people keep a high volume of music until late hours at night, and it is not right to see people smoking marijuana in public areas.”

Another resident, a 76-year-old Cuban man who also asked not to be identified for the same reasons, classified the residency as a living hell. In the last year, his car was vandalized, and the police could not find the people who committed that crime.

“One day I woke up and when I went to see my car, one of the windows was broken due to a bullet impact,” he said. “I went to the police department of Opa-Locka, I reported the crime and I even told the cop that was attending to me that there was a drop of blood on the front part of my car, and he did not do seem to care about it.”

He said that since January he has seen a decrease in gun violence, but there are still domestic disturbances in the complex.

“Shootings are gone, but sometimes I hear how one of my female neighbors is being beaten by her husband, and she is so scared that she is not capable of calling the police,” he said.

He also said that the leasing office has done well in hiring extra security, but they still need to fix the main gate.

“We have to be careful with the people that enter here,” he said. “There are times that the officer who guards this place is not here, and in that moment some cars come in and the people inside sell drugs to some of the residents through the window.”

Opa-Locka Police Assistant Chief Nikeya Jenkins said that the rate of gun violence in the neighborhood of Cordoba Courts has gone down since January.

“We have two officers guarding the area that includes Cordoba Courts, and one off-duty police officer inside that complex,” she said. “They are working most of the time and they are giving their best to maintain the law and order in that area.”

Jenkins also said that since January, most of the calls that she has received from that complex are related to domestic disturbances.

Millenia Housing Management spokeswoman Valerie Jerome said that her company has partnered with the Opa-Locka police to have officers on site for additional hours each day.

“Millenia is exploring the feasibility of installing license plate reader technology at the 22nd Avenue entry,” she said. “The exterior lighting is operational, and protocols are in place to ensure that lighting remains in good working order.”

She said that the company has asked the city for permission to close the gate on 139th Street, so there is only one entrance and exit from the complex. Jerome also said that her company continues to complete criminal background checks of all applicants who are new to Cordoba Courts.

“Millenia is working toward facilitating a low-income housing tax rehabilitation, thus preserving this much-needed affordable housing for well into the future,” she said. “Prior to Millennia’s purchase of Cordoba Courts, the property had been in decline for years. Since acquiring Cordoba Courts in 2016, the Millennia-affiliated ownership entity has invested $1.6 million in repairs and improvements.”

Carlos Martinez, 23, was born in Havana, Cuba and is majoring in journalism.