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Miami residents wait in long lines for $250 grocery gift cards

Many Miamians were waiting in line again Wednesday for $250 Publix gift cards meant to help those in the greatest need during the coronavirus pandemic.

MIAMI – Hundreds of people swarmed the Little Haiti Community Center on Wednesday, standing in line for hours.

They were waiting to pick up a $250 Publix gift card, part of a grant given to the City of Miami through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

Denina Cherfenant, who was in line since 5 a.m., said she hasn’t worked for eight months because of the pandemic. The mother of two was a housekeeper for a major South Florida hotel but has been furloughed since March.

Last month, Miami commissioners decided they will allocate $5 million of the CARES Arc money to small businesses, which can receive a grant of up to $20,000, and $3.4 million to residents, who can receive the $250 grocery gift card.

Based on economic need, District 5 is getting the largest slice.

“The need is far greater than anyone could’ve ever imagined,” District 5 Commissioner Jeffrey Watson said.

The demand could be seen in the seniors in line, many of whom brought their own crates and chairs to brave the wait in the cooler than normal weather.

Yet still, some people had to be turned away.

“Wome people were turned away today only because there’s a capacity issue with respect to staff, but more importantly, there’s a tracking issue so we can make sure we maximize our effort for everyone, so at some point we shut down,” Watson said.

A rigorous process of checks and balances is a must. Recipients must prove they’re City of Miami residents, living in the appropriate district, and sign an affidavit proclaiming their need.

“I’m happy I’m getting something,” Cherfenant said. “I’ll be happy.”

For more information on the distributions, including times and locations, CLICK HERE.

About the Author:

Terrell Forney joined Local 10 News in October 2005 as a general assignment reporter. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, but a desire to escape the harsh winters of the north brought him to South Florida.