Healing housing woes in Miami
Catalyst Miami has trained hundreds of resident leaders to advocate for issues that could improve their communities for the long-term. Through our Leadership programs, we transform individuals into grassroots leaders. We believe that everyone can lead–at home, in the classroom, in the community. We teach individuals how to find their voice and make a difference in their communities; and we offer training and practice opportunities for youth and adults in advocacy and public policy.
Meet Daniella Pierre, Catalyst Miami leadership alumni and housing advocate in Miami. As a mother, thought leader and champion for her community, she takes on the challenges of affordability and accessibility in the housing market, lending her voice as an advocate for those who are priced-out of living where they work.
We recently had a conversation with Daniella about the affordable housing landscape in Miami and the need for a community-level advocacy training for this important issue. Here's what she had to say:
CM: Why did you decide to become a housing advocate?
DP: I was called to be a housing advocate because of my own experience. In 2014, myself and my children lost the only place we have ever called home to foreclosure. As we worked through the experience, I met more people going through the same thing. I decided to be a positive influence for change, working to move housing forward for all people, regardless of creed, color or income level. Everyone deserves to have access to safe, decent, affordable place to live.
CM: A housing advocate witnesses the often negative consequences of gentrification: Displacement and pricing-out of long-time residents, higher rents and increased policing. What is the most important factor for residents experiencing these challenges?
DP: Gentrification, on the surface, is not a bad thing. It's when we are not at the table to direct the community investment dollars to benefit residents that currently reside in the area. Having a say when decisions are made for the community is vital. Not being at the table causes not just displacement, but the disruption to the way residents have built their lives. How do families come back to the area where they grew up, which was once an affordable, family-oriented, stable community instead of changing schools, transportation farther to work, and uprooting their lives?
CM: What kind of policy changes do you think we need to see in order to meet the housing needs of low wealth families?
DP: Moving housing forward will require policy change, enhancement, and innovation in the way we view and build for the 21st century.
- Create inclusive communities: Include all levels of income, homeowners and rental with the prospect of ownership
- Reduce barriers to entry: Update guidelines for income and family size that have been the same since the 1970's based on the evolving definition of family.
- Eradicating poverty: We need employers to pay a fair, living wage so we can live, meeting today's needs to sustain healthy families.
CM: Why do you think an advocacy training for affordable housing is important?
DP: Knowledge is power and the key to moving housing forward. Many of us have lived in and accepted less than desirable situations not knowing how to make it better. When we have a community of people who are informed and engaged, that is the beginning of solving the crisis of affordable housing.
Thank you, Catalyst Miami, for continuing to address the seriousness of the housing crisis in Miami-Dade and helping to move housing forward. I am applying to the program! You can never stop learning.
HEAL starts on July 10th at Gibson Park, 401 NW 12th St. Miami Florida 33136, from 5:30pm-9pm. It is open to adults (ages 14 and up) and youth (ages 6-13). For more information, contact Nicole Crooks at [email protected].
Apply now at http://bit.ly/HEALMiami
Daniella can be reached at [email protected]