Community Collects Donations for Hundreds Displaced by Miami Gardens Condo Fire

The Miami Gardens community is coming together to help the hundreds of people who lost just about everything in a massive condo building fire last month.

The non-partisan organization Faith In Florida partnered with churches, the Miami Dolphins, the Miami Gardens community and other leaders to collect items and donations for those who lived at the New World Condominiums.

“We have enough items that every person that have been victimized can come and get their needs supported and supplied,” Pastor Stephanie Russell said. “The Bible says you ought to be a cheerful giver and we are cheerfully packing these boxes.”

Donations came from all over. Dorris Johnson drove down from Palm Beach County with clothes and toiletries.

“People need help and I pray that if I needed help, that someone would help me as well,” Johnson said. “They’re going through a whole lot right now, and I pray that they get everything that they need.”

Volunteers will take everything over to the Betty T Ferguson Complex Wednesday, where many people wait for a more permanent solution, like Deandre Mathurin.

“The only things that I have left are my phone, my wallet and breath in my lungs,” Mathurin said.

Mathurin lost almost everything he owned, including his laptop, which he used to take online classes at Miami Dade College. After meeting with some of the volunteers last week, he said they’re gifting him a new laptop Wednesday.

“I was always a private person, and I still am and I didn’t think much of community but now that this has happened to me and I see all these people pitching in to help, it really makes me think about the importance of community,” Mathurin said.

The NBC 6 Investigators found Miami-Fade Fire Rescue issued the New World Condominiums 21 citations for fire code violations since 2010, most recently in May of 2021.

About half of all those code enforcement cases remain open, but just last year, the condominium association was found guilty of five fire code violations that were discovered in 2020 and ordered to pay more than $21,000 for those violations.

Liens recorded in county records said the violations had not been corrected, the association has not appealed, and it failed to pay the initial civil penalties. The records do not detail the nature of the violations but cite violations of the fire prevention codes.

The building manager told renters and owners that the condominium association had no fire insurance after owners declined to pay a special assessment for a 40-year re-certification.

An August 2021 report by an inspector showed the building was deemed structurally and electrically safe for use while certain repairs were made, including to the roof.

The building’s permit inspection history showed there is currently a permit for the roof, but as of Jan. 11, the inspection partially passed.