What is Climate Justice? Why do we care?

Rising temperatures, increasing frequency and severity of storms, fires, and floods, rising sea
levels, air pollution – these phenomena, strung together paint a hellscape that ought to
mobilize us all, yet we live in perpetual denial. Life is busy, and for now it goes on. There is little doubt among most, that climate change is an imminent threat to our world as we know it, but what we don’t hear enough talk of is who it will harm most, and how soon. Communities of
color, and low-income regions already face the realities of climate change – a trend that will
only continue to worsen. Climate justice is a concept that addresses the ethical and civil rights
aspect of climate change, through advocacy, research, and policy. Many of the approaches
needed are costly, but none near as costly as failing to address disaster before it hits.

Extreme Heat
Extreme temperatures have been an obvious outcome of climate change already. In the
north, that has meant devastatingly cold winters with polar vortexes, power outages, and
preventable deaths. In the south, it has meant the opposite. The past 7 years have all placed
within the top seven hottest years on record. Miami now sees an average of 133 high heat
days, 27 more than was average in 1995. This is expected to continue to rise. Extreme heat has
contributed to 12,000 deaths per year in the U.S. from 2010-2020. The National Weather
Service reports that extreme heat is the number one weather-related killer in the U.S. Health
risks of extreme heat include heat cramps, heat exhaustion, heat stroke, and death. It can also
exacerbate existing conditions.

Black and Hispanic people bear the brunt of these public health impacts. The average
temperature can vary drastically based upon zip codes due to factors such as less tree cover
and more heat-absorbing concrete. In Miami’s lower income, mostly Black and Latino
neighborhoods like Little Haiti, Little Havana and Liberty City, tree cover can be as little as 10%,
compared to around 40% in upscale coastal areas. In the first image below (Left), dark green is
healthy vegetation and light green to white are more urban areas with depleted to no
vegetation. These less green areas correspond to hotter temperatures (Right).

Further, these lower-income areas have insufficient infrastructure to handle heat
emergencies. In what is now America’s least affordable housing market, the high cost of
running air-conditioning forces people to choose how often they can afford to even run the air
conditioning, and when they need to face the heat to cut costs. People living under the poverty
line are 50% more likely to experience the effects of heat islands than those of higher income
urban areas. Fill out this survey to help document these rising temperatures.
Miami has recently created a Climate and Heat Health Task Force and appointed a Chief
Heat Officer, working to address these disparities that predominantly impact minorities. There
is much that needs to be done to address this root issue, but is a vital step in the right direction.

The Miami Foundation has released a Miami-Dade Extreme Heat Toolkit, which further outlines
the catastrophic heat trends we are seeing here in Miami, as well as critical steps that need to
be taken to assuage the threat our high temperatures impose on at risk populations. MCARE
stands behind these recommendations in strong support. They include but are not limited to
measures that increase green spaces and playgrounds. Shade for bus stops is also vital for those who rely in public transit to commute. We need to set a statewide standard for outdoor
workers to receive adequate water, shade and rest. Additionally, implementation of cooling
centers, a cool site, or airconditioned building designated as a safe location during extreme
heat, is a common strategy that Miami also needs to implement for the safety of our high-risk
citizens.

Storms and Hurricanes
Climate change has already led to an increase in frequency and severity of hurricanes, as
well as a longer hurricane season overall. It is predicted that around a million Miami-Dade
residents are a bad storm away from upheaval and houselessness. About a third of houses build before 1990 are at high risk for wind damage, mold, or even complete destruction. 70% of the counties ~1,000,000 single family homes, condos and townhomes were built before 1990, after which stricter building codes were implemented. These, of course, are houses inhabited by Miami’s lowest income, predominantly Black and Hispanic residents. These most vulnerable
neighborhoods include some of the counties lowest income, such as Little Haiti, Overtown,
Liberty City, Homestead, Opa-Locka, west Coconut Grove and North Miami.

We need to take preventative action to fortify this infrastructure and protect its
inhabitants from this destruction. Miami Homes for All has projected that the current shortage
of 121,820 units affordable and available to households earning less than $35,000 a year will
expand to 160,460 units by 2030. As housing costs in Miami rise at an uncontrolled rate, we
cannot afford to loss any of our affordable homes to natural disaster. We also need to focus
more funding and attention towards disaster response readiness and emergency shelter
availability ahead of a forecast storm.

Through our Climate Justice Campaign, we aim to raise awareness and advocate for these
critical issues. We aim to make our stance clear: Climate change poses a critical and immediate
threat to society, and it will disproportionately harm Black and Hispanic people of low income.
We will achieve this through several approaches:

  • We will publish opinion pieces in news outlets to increase awareness of relevant issues
    on this topic
  • We will actively support or oppose relevant local and national policies
  • We will work alongside local advocates as a coalition to push for actionable steps to
    address these issues highlighted above (Including but not limited to- increased green
    spaces & tree cover, cooling centers, protections for outdoor workers, disaster
    readiness & hurricane shelter preparedness, expand affordable housing and existing
    affordable housing fortification etc.)

Dangerous ‘extreme heat’ days to multiply inSouth Florida, study finds. Who is at risk?

Yes, it’s already very hot in Miami-Dade County. But if climate change continues
unabated, South Florida could go from steamy to scorching, adding an extra month
of “extreme heat” days by mid-century.

That kind of extreme heat makes it hard to work — or live — outside and can sicken
or even kill people, particularly outdoor laborers, the poor and the elderly. That’s a
problem for Miami-Dade, which has more than 100,000 outdoor workers, the most in
the state. It also will make cooling homes, buildings and cars pricier.
A report released Monday from the nonprofit climate research group First Street
Foundation found that Miami-Dade leads the nation as the county that could see the
sharpest increase in dangerous hot days over the next 30 years, when the U.S. could
be an average of 3 degrees hotter.

The southeast, including Florida, is likely to see much higher temperatures more
frequently. That means extra weeks of the year where temperatures top 100 — or
even higher.

“It’s getting warmer there, and while it’s easy to say ’it’s already hot here,’ the
exposure to more dangerous days is what dominated the story in our report,” said
Jeremy Porter, First Street’s chief research officer.

The First Street report found that South Florida, including Miami-Dade, Broward
and Palm Beach, could see about 40 extra days a year where the heat index is over
100 degrees Fahrenheit. The region gets about 50 a year now. Heat index — also
known as the “feels like” temperature — factors in humidity with temperature.
These findings mirror previous studies’ projections of what global warming could
feel like for South Florida, a warning that pushed Miami-Dade to hire its first-ever
Chief Heat Officer, set up an extreme heat task force and conduct a heat
vulnerability study.
“It reinforces what we’re already planning for,” said Jane Gilbert, the county’s chief
heat officer. “The quality of life in Miami-Dade County in 30 years is highly
dependent on how globally we’re able to control greenhouse gas emissions. It’s
imperative that as a county and a state we are leaders on greenhouse gas emissions
reductions.”

WHO’S AT RISK?

That vulnerability report, published earlier this summer, is already guiding
investments. Researchers found that Miami-Dade has an average of 58 hospitalizations and 301
emergency department visits a year for heat-related illnesses. Deaths are harder to
count. In the five-year span, only two death certificates listed extreme heat as the
first cause of death.

Christopher Uejio, an associate professor at Florida State University and lead author
of the analysis, said that’s both because medical examiners have a high bar for
counting heat as the main cause of death and because “heat exacerbates such a long
list of health conditions that it’s hard to tease it out.”
In the analysis, researchers found that changing that standard to include all illnesses
that extreme heat would have worsened brought the total to 34 deaths a year.
As the county warms, those deaths increased. Every ten-degree increase in the heat
index led to an additional death a day, the study found.

“Without further adaptation, we could expect heat-related illnesses and deaths to
increase,” Uejio said.

From there, researchers took the risk factors for heat-related illness and death —
like poverty, whether people work outside or live in mobile homes or if they have
children — and mapped it out across the county.

The zip codes with the highest risk were in South Dade, Miami Gardens and the
Allapattah area.
Gilbert, the county’s heat czar, said she’s targeting these areas for tree planting and
preservation to keep them cool, and they’re first in line for the 360 new shaded bus
shelters the county is installing this summer.
They’re also the focus of the county’s heat season campaign of public service
announcements, billboards and presentations.

“We used the vulnerability assessment to focus our investments in boosting the
videos and social media posts and bus shelter ads in zip codes with the highest rate
of heat-related hospitalizations,” Gilbert said. “We’ve reached over a million
residents already in our campaign and we’re continuing at it.”

LIVING AND WORKING IN THE HEAT

While researchers looked at a long list of factors that increase someone’s risk of
experiencing extreme heat, it boils down to two things: spending a lot of time
outside, usually while working, or living somewhere that isn’t properly cooled.

Miami-Dade has more outdoor workers than anywhere in the state, but there are no
laws at the state, national or local levels to protect them from heat stress.
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration has been slowly turning its
set of recommendations about offering laborers water, rest and shade into laws, a
multi-year process. In Florida, a bill that only recommended employers consider
offering some protections against heat stress (with no penalties for not doing so)
died after a single committee hearing, where it won unanimous, bipartisan
approval.

Miami-Dade is looking into proposing its own policy, Gilbert said. “We’re going to get the strongest possible policy that we can pass and hold. We have
to hope it won’t get pre-empted,” she said.

The other side of the equation is housing. Most apartments, condos and homes in
South Florida include air conditioning units, although it’s not standard in federally
subsidized housing. But running the AC is expensive, and as the cost of energy rises,
cash-strapped households often cut down on cooling to lower their bills.

One solution from the county is cooling centers or heat shelters. These are public
spots, usually community centers, parks and libraries, where residents can come
chill out during the hottest points of the day.

Ladd Keith, a University of Arizona Assistant Professor of Planning and Sustainable
Built Environments, said that these are helpful, but they don’t get at the real
problem of overheated housing.

“If the temperatures are still elevated in the evening, you’re essentially sending
those individuals back to unsafe conditions,” he said. “The root cause is we need
everyone to have a safe home to live in. The reason we need cooling centers in the
first place is we need everybody to have a safe place to live.”

INTRODUCING: HEAT SEASON

If there is good news for Florida, heat waves and extreme temperatures aren’t as
common as they are in the western U.S. because of the cooling effects of the nearby
Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico.

“There’s almost a ceiling, a physical limit to how hot it can get because of the water,”
Porter said. “But there are a few places in Florida and along the Atlantic coast where
that protective effect is starting to diminish because sea surface temperatures are
increasing.”

Florida’s brand of heat risk can be more difficult to warn people about. It’s easier to
sound the alarm for a three-week heat wave or a two-day temperature spike than simply saying the whole summer will be sweltering.

Eyeing the potential health impacts of heat, Miami-Dade started announcing an
official heat season, which runs from May through October. It’s one more way to
warn residents about the kind of risk they face, since the threshold for a warning
from the National Weather Service is so high — a heat index of 108 degrees.

That doesn’t happen often. By the calculations in the First Street report, Miami-Dade
hit that figure zero times this year, and after another 30 years of warming, it’s
projected to hit that number just three times a year.

To solve that, Gilbert and the county worked with the local NWS office to come up
with lower thresholds to warn residents about heat risk. At a heat index of 103, the
NWS now talks about taking “extreme caution” in the heat in its forecasts.
“I think the NWS has always wanted to be mindful of not having to issue a heat
advisory or heat warning too often because people might disregard it,” she said. “It
currently shows that we have room to issue these kinds of advisories and still get
people’s attention.”

Criminalization of Homelessness is Racially Discriminatory, Must be Abolished, Say UN Human Rights Experts

Also Calls for “All Necessary Measures to Eliminate Segregation”

 “The UN Report makes clear that criminalizing homelessness increases racial inequities, making it harder for unhoused persons to escape the trauma of homelessness.”  ~  David Peery

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 30, 2022

Media Contact: Erika Lopez

(202)638-2535 x110 | elopez@homelesslaw.org

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND- The U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in Geneva yesterday stated “it remains concerned at the increasing number of state and local laws that criminalize homelessness and at the disproportionately high number of persons belonging to racial and ethnic minorities affected by homelessness,” and called upon the U.S. government to take corrective action, following a hearing earlier this month.

Using its strongest language, the Committee, which issued similar concerns during the U.S.’s last review in 2014, further “reiterates its recommendation that the [U.S.] abolish laws and policies that criminalize homelessness; implement strong financial and legal incentives to decriminalize homelessness, including by conditioning or withdrawing funding from state and local authorities that criminalize homelessness and encourage them to redirect funding from criminal justice responses to adequate housing and shelter programs, in particular for persons belonging to racial and ethnic minorities most affected by homelessness.”

The Committee’s statement is part of its Concluding Observations, following a two day review earlier this month of U.S. government compliance with the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, a treaty ratified by the U.S. in 1994. The National Homelessness Law Center (“NHLC”), which submitted a report to the Committee in partnership with the University of Miami School of Law International Human Rights Clinic, National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center, Partners for Dignity and Rights, Miami Coalition to Advance Racial Equity, and the South Florida Community Development Coalition, as part of the review process, applauded the Committee’s findings.

“The U.N. was clear today: criminalizing homelessness is racially discriminatory, violates the human rights obligations we have to our citizens, and it needs to end, now,” said Eric Tars, Legal Director at NHLC. “States like Tennessee, who just made it a felony to camp on public lands, despite the lack of adequate, affordable housing, and Missouri, passing a template bill criminalizing camping and taking funds away from permanent housing to put it toward internment camps for homeless persons, are giving the U.S.’s reputation a black eye abroad and perpetuating discriminatory impacts at home.”

David Peery, Executive Director of Miami Coalition to Advance Racial Equity (MCARE) adds, “The UN Report makes clear that criminalizing homelessness increases racial inequities, making it harder for unhoused persons to escape the trauma of homelessness. We ask that Miami abandon its plan to deport our homeless residents to an isolated island. Instead, we should use our city’s resources to provide permanent supportive housing to the victims of intergenerational poverty and racism who are condemned to live on our city’s streets.”

Recognizing that the disparate racial impact of homelessness comes from “the high degree of residential racial segregation; the persistence of discrimination in access to housing … and the intersection with disability and gender identity; … and criminal records policies which can lead to homelessness,” the Committee also reiterated recommendations to increase enforcement of the Fair Housing Act, including obligations to Affirmatively Further Fair Housing, and urged the U.S. to “adopt all necessary measures to eliminate residential segregation, including by addressing the impact of exclusionary zoning and land use laws and practices that disproportionately affect racial and ethnic minorities.”

“The UN Committee has underscored how criminalizing and punishing homelessness has racially discriminatory impacts and contradicts human rights standards,” said Tamar Ezer, the Acting Director of the Human Rights Clinic at the University of Miami School of Law. “It is time for the U.S. to abandon these counterproductive polices and invest in real solutions, recognizing the human right to housing, including protection against forced eviction and the availability of housing that is affordable, habitable, accessible, well-located, and culturally adequate.”

The U.S. is required to submit its next report on compliance with the treaty by November 2025. The Law Center and other organizations will hold a Congressional briefing on the Committee’s recommendations in the fall and work with other government agencies to implement them.

###

The National Homelessness Law Center (The Law Center) is the only national organization dedicated solely to using the power of the law to prevent and end homelessness. With the support of a large network of pro bono lawyers, we address the immediate and long-term needs of people who are homeless or at risk
through outreach and training, advocacy, impact litigation, and public education.

Miami Coalition to Advance Racial Equity (MCARE) seeks to dismantle systemic racism that leads to homelessness, lack of access to healthcare and voter suppression in Florida. By focusing our strategies on the most vulnerable, marginalized persons, we lift the floor of social services for all, and we celebrate the
rich diversity of our community. Justice for Black Americans is justice for all Americans.

The Human Rights Clinic (HRC), part of Miami Law’s Human Rights Program, works for the promotion of social and economic justice globally and in the U.S. Students gain firsthand experience in cutting-edge human rights litigation and advocacy at the local, national, regional, and international levels.

Miami abortion rights rally expects 2K turnout as marches take place around Florida, country

The rally will be one of hundreds set across the county this weekend as part of “Bans Off Our Bodies” demonstrations.

More than two thousand individuals are expected to gather Saturday in Miami to rally in support of abortion rights amid a Supreme Court decision that could overturn Roe v. Wade.

The rally will be one of hundreds set across the county this weekend as part of “Bans Off Our Bodies” demonstrations — a national, organized call to action put out by Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Women’s March, MoveOn and UltraViolet to advocate for abortion access.

The Florida LGBTQ+ Democratic Caucus released a statement on the “Bans Off Our Bodies” rallies happening around the country Saturday.

“Today, Floridians across the state will make their voices heard in support of the right for women to make their own health care decisions. This right to privacy is enshrined in the US Constitution, and is fundamental to our democracy. If Roe v Wade is overturned by the US Supreme Court, other key rulings are in doubt, especially those expanding rights for LGBTQ+ Americans,” Caucus President Stephen Gaskill said in a statement. “Never before in our history have we restricted rights that have been fought for and won, and this risky precedent will endanger lives and cause irreparable harm to our country. We are marching today for the right to control our own destiny. This is what America is all about.”

Bans Off Our Bodies Miami was organized by a grassroots coalition of local activists and organizations, including Miami Coalition to Advance Racial Equity (MCARE), Miami National Organization for Women (NOW) and Blue Wave Coalition Miami Dade.

“I am outraged that men like Justices Atila and Kavanaugh want to strip ourbodily autonomy,” Miami NOW co-chair Columba Yebaile said in a statement. “Members of the Latinx community already face disproportionate barriers in accessing health care including abortion. Roe is the minimum, and to have that removed is absolutely unacceptable to me. As a Latina and a mother, I am ready to fight for the rights of my community and future generations.”

The event in Miami will start at 11 a.m. in Ives Estates Park, and will feature Florida elected officials including Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, City of Miami Commissioner Ken Russell, among others. The event will also include the following speakers and performers: Tify Burke from Southern Birth Justice Network, Trenise Bryant from Women With Broken Heels, Landon Wolston and Jack Lee Jordan with Transpire Trainings, Samantha Duran from the Miami-Dade Democrats Disability Caucus and Board Member Franzella Guido Chacon from Ruth’s List Miami.

Speakers will share the stage with two special performances from Miami Sound Choir, a community choir who will be singing Cancion Sin Miedo, and Singer/Songwriter Ana Paz who will be singing Right By The Way.

“We will not go back, and we will not be silenced,” Kat Duesterhaus, Board Member of Miami Coalition to Advance Racial Equity, said in a statement. “We’re sending a clear message that the majority in this country support abortion and that all people deserve access to abortion care when they need it, on the timeline they choose, and in the community they trust.”

The coalition fears that overturning Roe V. Wade is only the beginning, citing the recent passage of HB 5 in Florida, which bans abortions after 15-weeks of pregnancy. Other state legislatures working to ban abortion at any time, and to criminalize various forms of birth control and traveling for access to reproductive health care.

Bans Off Our Bodies rally draws thousands, including candidates, to Miami-Dade park

A couple thousand people demonstrated at Ives Estates Park in North Miami-Dade on Saturday to protest the Supreme Court’s possible reversal of Roe v. Wade. The showing was part of a nationwide Bans Off Our Bodies movement. Chanting “Abortion rights now!” amid signs and clothing decorated with pins and messages in support of a woman’s right to choose, the event drew activists as well as candidates for higher office come mid-term elections in November. Earlier this month a draft majority opinion was published by Politico and revealed that Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito argued that “Roe should be overturned because it was wrongly decided 50 years ago.”

The leak galvanized pro-choice and anti-abortion advocates alike. Saturday’s Bans Off Our Bodies Miami grassroots coalition of Miami local activists and organizations included Miami Coalition to Advance Racial Equity, Miami National Organization for Women and Blue Wave Coalition Miami Dade.

“You’re seeing democracy all across our state and across our country going into action that people are frustrated,” Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried told the Miami Herald at the park. Fried has announced she is running against Gov. Ron DeSantis as a Democrat. At the event she said “people are frustrated that a Supreme Court would take away rights and what is next on the chopping block? Whether it is Roe v. Wade and other reproductive rights, It’s also segregation, gay marriage. So many things are on the line and people are understanding it, and this is how they are going to show their frustrations by voting them all out of office.” That’s the message organizer Kat Duesterhaus had touched upon in a media release on Friday that stated organizers’ goals for the demonstration. “The coalition fears that overturning Roe v. Wade is only the beginning,” Duesterhaus said. Other rights like same sex marriage or interracial marriages could be overturned, too, the organizers fear.

The groups cited Florida’s recent passage of House Bill 5 that bans most abortions after 15 weeks and contains the strictest prohibition passed in the state since Roe v. Wade became law in January 1973. The bill, signed by DeSantis, does not come with exceptions for pregnancies that are the result of rape, incest or human trafficking but only if a woman’s health is threatened or if their baby has a “fatal fetal abnormality.” READ MORE: Abortion ruling resets Florida landscape Bans Off Our Bodies Miami is part of a nationwide call to action put out by Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Women’s March, MoveOn, and UltraViolet. The Miami-Dade rally featured speakers from Southern Birth Justice Network, Women With Broken Heels.

Fried’s message at the rally? She would “use the power of the governorship to do everything possible” to help women choose what they want to do with their bodies. “This is a pivotal moment in our society and we need men and women across our state and across our country to organize and to feel the energy and people in elected office need to see that people are angry, people are frustrated and we’re not going to take it lying down,” Fried told reporters.

“I am outraged that men like Justices Atila and Kavanaugh want to strip our bodily autonomy,” said Miami NOW Co-Chair Columba Yebaile in a statement. “Members of the Latinx community already face disproportionate barriers in accessing healthcare including abortion. Roe is the minimum, and to have that removed is absolutely unacceptable to me. As a Latina and a mother, I am ready to fight for the rights of my community and future generations.” “We will not go back, and we will not be silenced,” Duesterhaus, Board Member of Miami Coalition to Advance Racial Equity, said in a statement. “We’re sending a clear message that the majority in this country support abortion and that all people deserve access to abortion care when they need it, on the timeline they choose, and in the community they trust.”

Read more at: https://www.miamiherald.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article261430382.html#storylink=cpy

‘Basically an eviction.’ At Miami rent rally stories of $750 increase and grim choices

Emily Moloney felt good about her place in the Miami economy when the year
began: She was earning $85,000 in a tech job and covering rent on a one-bedroom
downtown apartment. Then came the notice of a $750 rent increase within 90
days.

“I let them know this is basically an eviction,” Moloney, 31, said of the 40% hike
needed to stay in her home. “I found Miami pretty affordable, until now.”
Moloney was one of about 30 people who joined Miami’s latest rally to protest rent
spikes and demand government action on a housing market that’s considered a
crisis by affordability activists, elected leaders and others warning of rising prices
endangering the workforce.

A national ranking of rental costs from apartment-listing company Redfin found
the greater Miami area, which includes Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, had
the fifth highest rent increases last year in the country, up 31%.

Data from Apartment List found the Miami area not quite as inflated as other
metro areas, with a 27% rent increase landing the region at 11th on that ranking.
Nelida Jean-Baptiste Pellot said she gave up on Miami last summer after losing her
home to a fire. Making about $50,000 a year as a community organizer, the 36-
year-old said finding a new place to live meant grim choices. “The places I could
afford were scary: mold, rats, roaches,” she said. Now she’s living in Vero Beach.

The “Rent is Too Damn High” rally was organized by SMASH — an advocacy group
formally named Struggle for Miami’s Affordable and Sustainable Housing.

It was timed to coincide with Miami-Dade commissioners passing a new rule
requiring 60-day notice for rent increases over 5%. The board also is considering
legislation that could lead to a referendum on whether to freeze rents for a year —
a proposal expected to come before the commission by the summer.

The county’s mayor, Daniella Levine Cava, joined the event and said the current
path of soaring rents was not sustainable. “I’m with you 100%,” she told participants. “We’re grateful for you stepping up and being the voice of the community for this crisis that cannot continue.”

Daniella Pierre, 40, told the crowd that housing prices are driving out middle-class
professionals such as teachers. She said there’s no option if she ever loses her spot
in an affordable building. “I’ve looked all over the county,” said Pierre, president of the Miami-Dade NAACP. “I can’t go anywhere.”

Moloney walked to the rally, where the crowd outside Miami-Dade’s Stephen P.
Clark government center chanted “Housing is a human right.” “I had to be here,” she said. One message she wanted to share was the possibility of tenants pushing back. While her landlord wanted a $750 increase, Moloney said she was able to negotiate a smaller rise of $250. “I’m not going to live above my means,” she said. “You have to know if your landlord is relying on your rent to survive, or if they’re price gouging. I knew they were price gouging.”

Sofia Prado, 24, described herself as struggling on the lower end of Miami’s rental market, with a pipe leaking into the wall and a fridge that’s so cold it’s basically a freezer. She and a roommate share a 400-square-foot efficiency in Little Haiti, where a bunk bed allows for more space. Rent is $975 a month.

A dog walker with a carpentry side job who is studying psychology at Miami Dade College, Prado previously lived in South Dade for the cheaper rent. But the commute ended up being too long to the Miami area, where she has school and work.

Prado grew up in Miami, with parents from Nicaragua working in construction and housekeeping to pay bills. Now she is looking to leave Miami. “Life isn’t easy. I get it,” Prado said. “Honestly, if it wasn’t for school, I would have left already.”

To view the full article with photos visit: https://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/miami-dade/article259390649.html

Extreme Heat

Extreme temperatures have been an obvious outcome of climate change already. In the north, that has meant devastatingly cold winters with polar vortexes, power outages, and preventable deaths. In the south, it has meant the opposite. The past 7 years have all placed within the top seven hottest years on recordMiami now sees an average of 133 high heat days, 27 more than was average in 1995. This is expected to continue to riseExtreme heat has contributed to 12,000 deaths per year in the U.S. from 2010-2020. The National Weather Service reports that extreme heat is the number one weather-related killer in the U.SHealth risks of extreme heat include heat cramps, heat exhaustion, heat stroke, and death. It can also exacerbate existing conditions. 

Black and Hispanic people bear the brunt of these public health impacts. The average temperature can vary drastically based upon zip codes due to factors such as less tree cover and more heat-absorbing concrete. In Miami’s lower income, mostly Black and Latino neighborhoods like Little Haiti, Little Havana and Liberty City, tree cover can be as little as 10%, compared to around 40% in upscale coastal areasIn the first image below (Left), dark green is healthy vegetation and light green to white are more urban areas with depleted to no vegetation. These less green areas correspond to hotter temperatures (Right).

Further, these lower-income areas have insufficient infrastructure to handle heat emergencies. In what is now America’s least affordable housing market, the high cost of running air-conditioning forces people to choose how often they can afford to even run the air conditioning, and when they need to face the heat to cut costs. People living under the poverty line are 50% more likely to experience the effects of heat islands than those of higher income urban areas. Fill out this survey to help document these rising temperatures.

Miami has recently created a Climate and Heat Health Task Force and appointed a Chief Heat Officer, working to address these disparities that predominantly impact minorities. There is much that needs to be done to address this root issue, but is a vital step in the right direction. The Miami Foundation has released a Miami-Dade Extreme Heat Toolkit, which further outlines the catastrophic heat trends we are seeing here in Miami, as well as critical steps that need to be taken to assuage the threat our high temperatures impose on at risk populations. MCARE stands behind these recommendations in strong support. They include but are not limited to measures that increase green spaces and playgrounds. Shade for bus stops is also vital for those who rely in public transit to commute. We need to set a statewide standard for outdoor workers to receive adequate water, shade and restAdditionally, implementation of cooling centers, a cool site, or air conditioned building designated as a safe location during extreme heat, is a common strategy that Miami also needs to implement for the safety of our high-risk citizens.

Miami’s Climate Gentrification Crisis

On April 1st at 2pm, IGNITE National will be hosting our Miami community council on Miami’s climate gentrification crisis. It will be facilitated by myself and will include well versed panelists to discuss rent spikes, climate change and how its fueling mass gentrification in our beloved neighborhoods. Please join me as we embark on a much needed discussion to think critically on the issue at hand and our next steps.