Importance of Natural Resources

Is Climate Gentrification Happening in Miami?

When we talk about certain issues, we put
weight on empirical evidence more than we value anecdotes and anecdotal evidence, and that really has to change. When someone
is telling you about a phenomenon, your answers shouldn’t be, “eh, we’re not sure.” And with climate gentrification, it’s been
a couple of years since people started describing this phenomenon. It shouldn’t have taken this long to go, “well
let’s look into this.” We have heard from community members living
in Little Haiti specifically and also Liberty City that they get knocks on their doors
and offers to sell their home. Those offers will often be cash offers
that also come with a period of time where they can have free rent in South Dade, so in Homestead for example. So that’s something
that we’ve been hearing about a lot the pressure to sell your home and then also to move to this lower elevation area that’s more susceptible to sea level rise. So the difference between gentrification and
climate gentrification is that gentrification really only relates to housing. It is definitely harmful, but it’s harmful
in a way that it can tear apart the fabric of established and really important and culturally
relevant neighborhoods. It does not always mean that people will be
put in the path of harm. That’s where climate gentrification comes
in. When you’re talking about climate gentrification,
you’re really talking about risk and level of risk and vulnerability. We know that Little Haiti sits largely eight
to ten feet above sea level, and Homestead, sits two to three feet above sea level. So yes, here’s an opportunity to buy more
properties and to short term increase your value and your net value, your assets. However, when we get another storm, when sea
levels start rising enough, if anything were to ever happen to Turkey Point, Homestead
residents are going to be considerably more vulnerable than Little Haiti residents. This is years in the making, people understanding
this property, the area where it’s located as far as how close you are in terms of proximity
to the beach, downtown, the airport. So it’s a hot zone, hot location and the climate
aspect, we now know that this is high elevation. We know that when Hurricane Irma came,
you know, the beach got flooded, downtown got flooded, but Ti Ayiti didn’t get flooded. We talk about climate gentrification in Miami
when it comes to sea level rise. But climate gentrification could also be proximity
to wildfires, or an area that’s prone to mudslides. So things that just puts you in harm’s way
or moving you closer to being in harm’s way. I really think climate gentrification is just
adding on a layer on top of, traditional gentrification or displacement. You know, here in Miami, climate change is
probably the greatest issue that we’re facing in terms of threats to existence. Caroline Lewis from CLEO institute always
says climate change is a threat multiplier. It kind of adds on additional stresses onto
what are already critical issues for our community. In the history of Miami, Miami Beach has been
the primary demand driver, right? Everybody wants to be close to the water. So traditionally, those areas along the waterfront
including areas along the Biscayne Bay and downtown Miami have received most of the development
activity over the last 30 or 40 years. Today that’s shifted a bit and now we’re seeing
more Northwest movement. We’re seeing a lot more development pattern
and a development activity heading towards the Northwest. So we’re seeing significant redevelopment pressure
across Miami’s various neighborhoods and Little Haiti, for example, between 2000-2013 we’ve seen a 70% increase in the number of households earning over $100,000 per year, and a 20%
decrease in the number of rental units that are affordable to lower income households. We’ve mapped some of that redevelopment pressure. We’re actually able to visualize it through
our mapping software. So we can show you how many properties in
Little Haiti, Little Havana, and Allapattah that are currently owned by a company. And some of the results are really striking. In Little Haiti, for example, 22% of all single
family homes and duplexes in broader Little Haiti, are owned by some type of company.” To give you a sense of scale, it’s only 6%
county-wide. So Little Haiti has more than three times
the rate of single-family homes and duplexes owned by a company in the rest of Miami-Dade county. The neighborhoods that are currently the case
studies, if you will, for climate gentrification as a phenomenon are Little Haiti, Little Havana,
Liberty City, Allapattah, Overtown to an extent. These neighborhoods are historically of color. Black and brown folks inhabit these neighborhoods,
and further than that, they are socioeconomically challenged. They’ve been historically disinvested in by
the city until just recently, and what is unfortunate is that these neighborhoods are
not only historically of color. They really are cultural epicenters that
you cannot find not only in other parts of the city or the county, but also in other
parts of the nation. What makes up a community is the people, the
land that they stand on, and between that what they are able to create with each other. And if you look at that angle and you see
that there’s more people in terms of demographic moving into a community and you starting to
see because of the land itself that they’re taking away, they’re also changing the culture
and the lives of these people. When you take the land, you take the nightclub
that was here. You know, you take that. You take the daycare that was here. You know what I’m saying? You’re taking something very, that’s dear to them. So the causes of gentrification are extremely complex,
and it’s hard at this point to make a determination of how much of an impact seas level rise is
having on Miami’s redevelopment pressure. I don’t think people are leaving Miami Beach
to move to Allapattah. To me that would be the definition of climate
gentrification. Where people are migrating from a low-lying
area and by virtue of what they’re expected to pay, or what they were paying, they move
into another area and affect the pricing. What’s actually happening is Miami’s growth
is just driving people to those areas because they tend to be areas that are accessible
to the employment centers, accessible to public transportation and accessible to the other
city infrastructure that’s developed downtown at a lesser land cost or at a lesser development
costs. The city is undergoing a lot of development
interest, right? In many parts of the city there are areas
of high elevation that are undergoing high development interest but also lower lying areas along the Miami river that are just that next wave from downtown. We’re tied for third as the fastest growing
city in the country. I don’t think that developers are going out
with a topographical map and saying I’d rather buy this site cause it’s five feet
higher. I think that they look at the site specifics
of development and if they’re in a low-lying area, they have to contemplate what design am I going to have to employ to be able to get the correct insurance rates and to be
able to build this in a sustainable way. So I do think the developers are considering
elevation in their decisions. I don’t think they’re seeking sites intentionally
just because it’s on the coastal ridge. I think the developers are actually just looking
for larger tracks of land to do projects and we’re running out of truly vacant sites in
the other areas of the city that you would normally purchase. So you either have to buy an existing building, be prepared to demolish it and redevelop it and so forth. Or you can buy for much cheaper land in some
of these outline areas. For me it doesn’t necessarily matter what
the intention of a specific developer is. I think it’s a clear fact that people are
being gentrified out of their neighborhoods, and that if they’re moving to an area that’s
more susceptible to sea level rise, that they’re going to be more climate vulnerable. And that’s what climate gentrification is. And I really believe that’s what’s happening
in Miami Dade County. The climate gentrification resolution passed
unanimously and was largely heralded, as an innovative effort by the city. There was press coverage because there has
been no other municipality that has committed to studying and understanding the issue. And so to me that applause that
we got figuratively comes with a sense of responsibility to then actually follow through. We are acutely aware of the fact that in Miami
gentrification is an issue. That said, it serves in our opinion, uh, no
great purpose to focus exclusively on climate gentrification as such. It serves us best, us in the planning departments,
and us in the city of Miami, to include climate gentrification as one component of
all the gentrification forces that affect the city of Miami and tackle them as a whole. To go any further into simply trying to isolate
the instances that are a result of climate gentrification would frankly be to go forward
and in a fool’s errand. We’d miss the point if we don’t tie it into
all the other factors. Given that it has been almost one year, and
we are no closer to having the intentional solutions that we wanted as a result of this
resolution, I cannot say that the support is there to really make inroads on this issue in a timely fashion. I don’t think that there is a lack of will
to address the issue, but I think that there is a lack of understanding and there is a
lack of understanding just how pressing this is and just how pressing it could be if left
unaddressed. I think we’re in the early stages of really
assessing all the factors that attend and that influence gentrification generally. And I’m frankly not in favor of moving forward
in a rushed fashion because there is much data out there that we need to obtain and
we wouldn’t want to miss to really inform good sound policy long term. At least from the planning department standpoint, the long-term outlook is always the important thing. We don’t really have years to waste. There are residents that are being displaced
right now. There are neighborhoods that are being hyper
gentrified right now. And so, we do need timely solutions. But the idea behind the resolution was to
make sure that we have at least done the background research to make sure that those resolutions,
those proposed solutions will be effective and to make sure that they are surgery, and
not a band aid on a stab wound. Whether or not you believe in climate gentrification,
gentrification is happening now. Displacement is happening now. The people that have been in Miami for decades
that really have built this city and made the city what it is can no longer afford to
live here. They’re looking at places like Broward and
Orlando. And then when you add climate concerns on
top of that, it doesn’t help alleviate this at all we need to really start protecting
our residents. It’s very easy to ignore this as being an
issue, a poor people’s issue or a black and brown issue. But it’s everybody’s issue. This city is a beautiful place only because
of the people that inhabit it. And so it’s really on all of us to keep our
city beautiful and to keep our city vibrant by keeping our city diverse and making sure
that we are protecting those among us who have just historically been pushed around
who have historically been disenfranchised, oppressed, largely so that this city could
become what it is today. We need more investments from the government. And we also need, more understanding from
private sector that’s come here to understand what’s going on with our community. It’s not just high land elevation. There’s culture
here and there’s beautiful people here. There’s a strong force in terms of having
to be resilient. I know there’s a lot of Haitian investors
who are not selling. They’ve taken that decision to not just only
sell, but to fight back for who they are, right? Not necessarily like, but fight back with
saying, this is our community. You know, let’s beautify it. So, my vision and our vision for this community
is a resilient one by after when we’re all still here. It’s not one of a somber, and people are going
to get washed out. And the fact that I’m here, that itself is
such a strong statement to this community.

Reader Comments


  2. I shared a video of this phenomenon years ago!
    Warned People Of Lies Of OUT OF CONTROL CRIMES Being Reported From These Areas!
    Deny Freedom Of Movement and associations! FILL WORKLOADS, DAYS TO PREVENT ESTABLISHMENT OF A FAMILY!
    Social Engineering 101.

  3. I’ll believe all this BS when wealthy leftist living in mansions on the coast start selling their properties at a discount until then crickets.

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