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Issues We Care About

Policy change is needed to ensure everyone's basic needs are met; distribute resources equitably; amend or enforce existing laws; and respond to new threats. For Catalyst Miami, the policy issues that take priority are those that are critical to the well-being of Miami-Dade’s low-wealth communities, as well as issues that the community emphasizes are important.

Additionally, we know that enacting change in Miami-Dade will not be possible without simultaneously addressing Miami's long history of racial injustice. For these reasons we commit to placing racial justice front and center in every aspect of our policy platform.

In accordance with this mission, Catalyst Miami seeks to support policy change in the following issue areas.

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South Florida has been built on the exploitation and marginalization of Black and Indigenous people. This has decimated wealth in these populations; for example, the median liquid asset value for Black Miamians is $11 as compared to $10,750 for Whites. It's a matter of life and death: children in Miami's Black communities live 15 fewer years than those in communities just a few miles away.
Policy change in Miami-Dade County will not be possible without addressing Miami's entrenched racial inequities. For this reason, we place racial justice front and center in every aspect of our policy platform.

Miami-Dade County is known internationally as “ground zero” for climate change impacts. As the climate crisis intensifies, Miami-Dade County’s low-income populations are likely to be disproportionately burdened. Given the economic disparity in our community, it is essential for residents to be a part of the solution and for social justice to be central to the future of our region. 

Catalyst Miami’s climate resilience work builds grassroots climate leadership, supports innovative climate adaptation projects, and advocates for more meaningful community engagement in the development of climate policy. Our CLEAR climate justice leadership program maximizes the opportunity to reduce structural poverty by preparing Miami-Dade County’s vulnerable communities for the threats of climate change and providing them with opportunities to educate others and advocate for solutions. 

In addition, Catalyst Miami is committing to the following climate justice policy priorities. 

In 2020, we will work to...
  • establish a 100% renewable energy commitment from Miami-Dade County and the City of Miami;
  • ensure equity in municipal sustainability plans;
  • explore policy solutions on the intersections of climate and health;
  • monitor and advocate for community engagement in infrastructure development, such as through the Miami Forever Bond; and
  • improve government hurricane response.
At the state level, we will advocate for...
  • increased investment in septic tank conversion for low-wealth residents;
  • labor rights for outdoor workers exposed to extreme heat; and
  • sea level rise impact assessments for state-funded infrastructure projects.

A healthier Miami-Dade is a more prosperous Miami-Dade. This goes for households, the economy, and our government. Florida has a long way to go when it comes to healthcare accessibility and affordability. Luckily, many solutions are available.

In 2020, Catalyst Miami will go to Tallahassee to demand that...
  • Medicaid be expanded generally, and that more oral health providers be incorporated into our existing Medicaid program;
  • a dental student college debt waiver program be established in order to promote service provision in low-income areas;
  • Florida’s Attorney General withdraws our state from a lawsuit to repeal the Affordable Care Act, advocates for supported decision-making for people with disabilities to exercise their full legal capacity, and supports oral health coverage for adults and pregnant women enrolled in Medicaid.
More on Oral Health Equity

In 2016, 59.8% of Hispanic adults and 67.8% of black adults in Miami-Dade County had visited the dentist in the past 12 months. In addition, Florida ranks 45th out of 50 in the number of Medicaid-eligible children receiving any preventive dental services. To help solve this issue that is critical to the overall health of our residents, Catalyst Miami and our Miami-Dade Oral Health Network (MDOHN) partners work to increase oral health equity and access through school-based strategies, community policy and advocacy work, and education and awareness initiatives.

Our efforts in 2019 included piloting, thanks to $5,000 in funding from the Dentaquest Foundation, a water filling station program in collaboration with Nova Southeastern University and Miami Booker T. Washington High School. This school-based project is designed to promote higher intake of fluoridated water, reduce cavities in children attending Miami-Dade County Public Schools (M-DCPS), help ensure healthy weight and hydration of children in M-DCPS, and reduce environmental waste. Additional 2019 work included conducting community outreach to educate and create awareness among Miami-Dade residents about oral health disparities and ways to create equity; participating at community resource and health fairs to ensure maximum use of existing resources available; and lobbying activities, including a visit to the nation’s capital to advocate for progressive oral health legislation.

Our partnerships in the MDOHN have allowed us to create a community-friendly policy guide, a Medicare toolkit, fact sheets, literature reviews, and white papers, all of which are designed to help community members and organizations conduct their work in ways that are inclusive of the communities most disenfranchised in oral and overall healthcare. Thanks to our partnerships, we have been able to create awareness by participating in community outreach events that facilitated interaction with an estimated 2,000 community residents and partners in 2019 alone.

Miami-Dade County faces a housing crisis: we are the second most unaffordable county in the country for renters. Catalyst Miami believes housing is a human right. Our housing justice leadership curriculum, HEAL, tackles this community-identified issue through racial and economic justice, health equity, and climate change frameworks. 

In addition, Catalyst Miami is committing to the following housing justice policy priorities. 

In 2020, we commit to...
  • supporting affordable housing master plan implementation by participating in and informing the efforts of on-going networks, including the Miami-Dade County Affordable Housing Blueprint and Connect Capital coalitions; and
  • working to oppose harmful zoning and land use patterns through network participation in the Miami Climate Alliance, as well as in the Public Land for Public Good coalition.
At the state level, we are...
  • supporting the demands of the Florida Statewide Housing Justice Coalition; and
  • advocating for increased investment in affordable housing and opposing regressive, discriminatory housing policy that favors corporations over people.

A 2019 report from FIU found that Miami-Dade County has the second greatest income inequality in the nation. We know that centuries of discriminatory policies and practices, often applied along racial lines, have contributed to economic injustices that serve to divide our community and inhibit opportunities for wealth creation. 

In 2020, we will...
  • advocate for an increased minimum wage at the state level; 
  • Actively support living wage and job benefits efforts at the local level; and
  • analyze, propose, and support solutions to eliminate fines, fees, and bail that serve to keep people in poverty.

There are federal, state, and municipal elections taking place in 2020. In a 501c3 capacity, Catalyst Miami will ensure that the communities in which we work are knowledgeable about the upcoming elections, understand the importance of voting, and have access to sharing their community concerns with all candidates. 

Additionally, we are working to accomplish some overarching themes. First, we would like to open local government processes to encourage meaningful community engagement, resulting in community-informed and -centered government processes and policies. This will include championing procedural changes, seeking opportunities to collaborate further with government staff, as well as supporting community representation on municipal boards and councils. Second, we will be championing a framework of equity in all policies, bringing a voice for equity and intersectionality in all of the networks, coalitions, and policies that we support.

A word on process:

Given the immense diversity of Miami-Dade County, and the depth of our challenges, we believe that public policy must be developed in partnership with the public. Participatory policy requires all stakeholders, especially community members, to be involved throughout the entire policymaking process (development, implementation, and evaluation). Participatory policy results in more impactful and effective policy because as more voices are involved in the process, the more ideas brought forth, support gained, errors avoided, ownership grown, and momentum built for future community involvement. 

The key to participatory policy is a passionate and informed citizenry. We actively build this citizenry through our leadership development programs, some of which center around a particular policy topic, but all of which focus on systems thinking, public speaking, and community organizing skills. We also do this through our fellowship programs, which provide participants with funding and technical support to implement their own ideas to address community concerns. Our leadership development graduates and fellows are central to our policy work. They communicate real needs and concerns, ensure that proposed policies meet their needs, build leadership, energize others, and lay the groundwork for long-term change. 

As we advocate at the government level for participatory policy (in budgets, strategic plans, planning and zoning procedures, etc.), we must ensure that our own processes are radically open and transparent. One framework to create open processes is to conduct policy via a coalition or alliance, rather than a single organization. Coalition work provides multiple benefits, including unifying an intersectional group of allies, increasing anonymity, and adding clout to policy efforts.