Pages tagged "News"
South Dade Success Plan Progress Report
By: Daniella Levine Cava
It is an honor to serve as county commissioner for District 8. Nov. 18 marked my first anniversary in office, a time for reflection and renewed commitment.
My priority is to improve our residents’ quality of life and ensure that we receive our fair share of county resources. South Miami-Dade is unique and special. It has beautiful parks, friendly neighborhoods and precious open spaces, including thriving farmland. We have great and diverse cultural life, including theaters and music venues, and a mix of nationalities, ethnicities and backgrounds, all enriching our quality of our lives.
I am dedicated to maintaining South Dade’s remarkable character while encouraging smart growth and economic development to build our prosperity, create jobs closer to home, and preserve our strong communities.
Prior to coming to office I founded and led a nonprofit organization, Catalyst Miami, that focused on similar concerns. We succeeded when we brought people together to develop shared vision and action plans.
Applying what I learned, we decided to hold the first ever South Dade Solutions Summit (www.miamidade.gov/district08/releases/2015-06-06-south-dade-solutions-summit.asp) in June 2015, covering all of South Miami-Dade. Commissioner Dennis Moss and I brought together 200 stakeholders to discuss opportunities and challenges.
We set priorities, established goals and identified a leadership team of commissioners, mayors and managers of Cutler Bay, Palmetto Bay, Homestead, Pinecrest and Florida City. The leadership team developed the South Dade Success Plan, focusing on the three key areas discussed at the summit — the environment, transportation and the economy.
Seven months later, we are eager to report our progress and accomplishments to the community through our South Dade Success Plan Mid-Year Report (www.miamidade.gov/district08/library/south-dade-summit-mid-year.pdf). We launched the Parks for People initiative (www.miamidade.gov/district08/releases/2015-09-17-parks-for-people-initiative-gains-increase-in-parks-budget.asp), that helped secure a 20 percent increase in parks funding. Commissioner Moss and I fought to preserve our farmland and hold the urban development boundary. I sponsored a preference in county contracts (www.miamidade.gov/district08/releases/2015-05-05-purchase-local-goods.asp) for locally grown produce and products and we both championed innovation in agriculture.
In the transportation area, my office obtained funds to revisit the South Link Study and analyze the feasibility of light rail on the busway.
Meanwhile, we supported the acquisition (www.miamidade.gov/district08/releases/2015-11-09-unveil-new-county-buses.asp) of over a dozen 60-foot hybrid “bending” buses to provide immediate relief to the crowded South Dade Busway. All improvements made on the busway also will serve for a future light rail system, which the five South Dade mayors also support.
A strong economy is the key to a flourishing South Dade. District 8 put together the first Small Business Academy (www.miamidade.gov/district08/releases/2015-11-17-small-business-academy.asp) to serve this essential sector. For two months, entrepreneurs gathered weekly to learn growth strategies and meet with capital lenders. Districts 8 and 9 awarded Mom and Pop Grants to dozens of small businesses through a competitive process. Inspired by Mom and Pop, I established a competitive program for nonprofits, “Impact Grants.”
We will repeat both programs this year. And this year’s summit will focus on marketing the region with a special emphasis on ecotourism and agritourism.
Your input is vital to our success. Please join our mailing list at www.miamidade.gov/district08/ and follow our social media pages to stay up to date (Twitter: @dlcava Facebook: /CommissionerCava). We cannot succeed in our quality of life goals for South Dade without your partnership. Thank you!
Health Reform Frequently Asked Questions
Open Enrollment has officially begun. Until mid-spring, organizations across South Florida will be hosting fairs and events to educate the community about ACA and to offer ACA navigation services. Still, many residents and service providers have questions they would like answered.
The Kaiser Family Foundation has assembled an extremely detailed Health Reform FAQs page. There you will find simple, clear answers to all of your questions. To read more, go to kff.org. Should you still have questions, call us at 305-576-5001 and we will direct you to the right place.
What is the health insurance Marketplace?
What health plans are offered through the Marketplace?
Can I buy a plan in the Marketplace if I don’t have a green card?
Anti-poverty conference offers hope, solutions
By: Katie Lepri
On Saturday, more than 100 social justice advocates, grassroots organizations, policymakers and others gathered for South Florida’s first Anti-Poverty Summit in Miami with one goal: find ways to reduce Miami’s high poverty rate.
Event organizers considered it an opportunity for the community to work together to identify county and state policies, and practices, that are successful in lifting the poor out of poverty. Potential solutions included ending workplace discrimination, increasing the minimum wage (Florida’s current minimum wage is $7.93) and boosting housing rental assistance.
For Miami-Dade county commissioner-elect Daniella Levine Cava, founder of Catalyst Miami, which co-hosted the event, reducing poverty is “the work that this community has required for decades.”
The conference comes at a time when Miami’s poverty rate stands at 17 percent, while nationally it’s 14.5 percent. The Census Bureau reported in September that the poverty rate nationwide declined in 2013 for the first time since 2006.
Nationwide, the number of people living at or below the poverty line — some 45.3 million — has remained about the same for the last three years. The federal government deems a family of four with an annual income of $23,850 or less as living below the poverty line.
Cava is determined to move her political agenda forward to make real legislative change for what she says are the nearly 70 percent of households in Miami-Dade that are financially at risk of falling below the poverty line.
“The fundamentals, the basics of life, are still very much as risk for many of our residents,” she said. “Now that the economy is recovering, this is the opportunity to really be more inclusive in how we grow.”
The daylong event featured state and local government representatives, including State Sen. Dwight Bullard, D-Cutler Bay, state Reps. Cynthia Stafford, D-Opa-locka, and Barbara Watson, D-Miami Gardens, and Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez, along with community activists and policy experts.
The summit was nationally supported by Half in Ten, a project of the Center for American Progress dedicated to cutting poverty in half in ten years, along with Catalyst Miami and South Florida Voices for Working Families.
“After any election, it’s important to elevate the issues of the community and make sure that they’re being heard by the people that are in a position to actually make shifts changes in public policy,” said Gretchen Beesing, CEO of Catalyst Miami.
“We’re always trying to identify opportunities to create healthier, more prosperous, safer communities,” said Miguel Milanes, regional vice president of the Allegany Franciscan Ministries. “This event is hopefully the beginning of a conversation — it’s not the end.”
ADVISORY: Half in Ten Campaign and Catalyst Miami Host South Florida Anti-Poverty Summit
November 6, 2014
ADVISORY: Half in Ten Campaign and Catalyst Miami Host South Florida Anti-Poverty Summit
State Rep. Cynthia Stafford (D-109)
State Rep. Barbara Watson (D-107)
Mayor Cindy Lerner, Village of Pinecrest
City of Miami Commissioner Keon Hardemon, District 5
Miami-Dade County Commissioner Xavier Suarez, District 7
Miami-Dade County Commissioner-elect Daniella Levine Cava, District 8
Monica Russo, President of SEIU Florida State Council, Executive Vice President of 1199 SEIU
Clarence Washington, President of Transport Workers Union Local 291, AFL-CIO
Karen Woodall, Executive Director, Florida Center for Fiscal and Economic Policy
Nely Rodriguez, Senior Staff Member and Leader, Coalition of Immokalee Workers
Dorothy Bendross-Mindingall, Miami-Dade County Public Schools School Board Member, District 2
Phillip Agnew, Executive Director, Dream Defenders
9:00 a.m. ET – 4:00 p.m. ET
A complete agenda, including a rundown of panel sessions, can be viewed here.
1951 NW 7th Avenue, 6th Floor
Miami, Florida, 33136
Healthcare activists launch new effort to enroll Floridians in insurance plans
By: Nick Madigan
Having learned useful lessons during the Affordable Care Act’s first enrollment period, healthcare activists in South Florida are planning to do some things differently as they help people apply for insurance plans the second time around.
“It was very much a learning curve last year, and we were scrambling to coordinate everything,” Maura Shiffman, a community health manager for the Health Council of South Florida, said Wednesday during the kickoff of a sign-up campaign set to unfold for the act’s second enrollment period, which begins on Nov. 15 and ends on Feb. 15.
When they fan out next month, the activists — who include medical and law students and members of community health organizations — will strive to better coordinate their efforts and their message, some of the activists said during the kickoff breakfast at the Coral Gables Country Club.
They are also adding better technology to the mix, enabling people to make appointments with navigators online and through the 2-1-1 telephone switchboard. Hispanic and minority neighborhoods in which the uninsured rate is higher than average will be courted more intensely.
“Our first time around we were building a plane as we were flying it,” said Raymond Paultre, the Florida organizing director for Enroll America, whose focus is on maximizing the number of Americans who have health coverage. “We were kind of the new kids on the block a year and a half ago.”
Now, he went on, his organization has identified “a whole bunch of uninsured and under-insured people” in Florida well in advance of the enrollment period. Those people — there are about 130,000 on Enroll America’s list so far — will receive phone calls or visits in the next few weeks to urge them to enroll or to sign up for a better plan than the one they have.
There will also be a more concerted effort to ensure that the plans people enroll in are appropriate to their medical conditions, and that navigators direct them to such offerings. During the last enrollment period, many people signed up for cheaper plans that ended up not meeting their needs, especially if their medical problems called for specialists who were not part of their insurance policy, according to Santra Denis, the community health director for Catalyst Miami, formerly known as the Human Services Coalition.
Other groups represented at the meeting included the Miami Beach Community Health Center, Florida Legal Services, the Florida International University College of Law, the Jesse Trice Community Health Center, South Florida Voices for Working Families, Borinquen Health Care Center, Jackson Health System and Camillus Health.
“This was new for everybody last year,” said Lili Bach, the Florida field director for America Votes, a national organization that advances progressive policies. One of its tasks in the second year of the insurance sign-ups, Bach said, “is to make sure all the organizations work together and play nice.”
Among the impediments last year, Bach said, was a tough political climate, a situation exacerbated by the problems that bedeviled the system’s main website in its inaugural weeks.
The political noise, she went on, appears to have diminished somewhat, especially given that more than 8 million Americans are already signed up for plans under the ACA — almost 1 million of them in Florida. To make sure that those numbers grow, organizers in South Florida have planned 11 enrollment events so far, most of them at the various Miami Dade College campuses, with more in the works.
One of the issues last year was that there were too many sign-up events, some of them poorly organized. “There were all these groups that came out of the woodwork and said, ‘Hey, we want to hold an event too,’” recalled Jimmy Tan, Enroll America’s chief organizer in Miami-Dade County. “It led to a lot of chaos, and it made us spread our resources too thin. That’s not going to happen this year.”
Tan said consumers must be encouraged to not procrastinate, to do their homework and be prepared to enroll in a plan that suits them. “It’s human nature,” he said. “Most people are going to wait until the end of the enrollment period.”
Shiffman, the Health Council manager, agreed, and emphasized that the actual enrollment process is not a casual endeavor. “Plan on being there for 1 1/2 hours,” she said. “Have realistic expectations — it’s not going to take 45 minutes. And, basically, bring your life. We can only do so much without going to your house and getting the information for you.”
Marisel Losa, the Health Council’s president and CEO, said in a telephone interview that dozens of students from the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine and FIU’s College of Law have been certified as application counselors to provide personal assistance to consumers seeking health plans. In some cases, she said, applicants have to be educated on what a deductible is, or what the word “premium” means.
The students, Losa said, are being trained to ask crucial questions, such as what the precise medical needs of an applicant are, and how much of a deductible might he or she be able to afford.
“If you’ve got a physician you absolutely love,” Losa suggested, “make sure that he’s a provider on that plan.”
Citi looks to tech and non-profits to drive financial inclusion
Citi is working with non-profit organisation Catalyst Miami on a tech-based financial inclusion programme that it believes could be replicated across the country.
Bob Annibale, global director, Citi Community Development and Citi Microfinance, says: "It seems simple, but by enabling low-income individuals to make fewer stops on their way to financial inclusion while working directly with their trusted nonprofit, we think it will have a meaningful impact.
Alongside the ability to take deposits from ATMs in local convenience stores, Ways 2 Wealth participants will also attend trainings, engage in financial coaching sessions with Catalyst Miami, and set their own personal financial goals. Participants who successfully complete the programme will receive incentives of up to $125 after six months.
"Initiatives like this are critical in a state like Florida, which suffers from high rates of financial exclusion," says Annibale. "Ways 2 Wealth is just one example of how the touch points for banking underserved populations must - and will - be different than touch points of the past, so that more people can access financial products for their economic stability."
Some say $10.10 would hurt business, but most business people disagree
“From a business perspective, a higher minimum wage will reduce turnover and training costs, and lead to more productive workers who are focused on the work at hand, not on looking for another job that pays more.”
Catalyst Miami and Citi Launch “Ways 2 Wealth” Savings Program
On September 4th, Catalyst Miami and Citi will launch the Ways 2 Wealth savings program for Florida’s low-income community, amid several activities for “Miami-Dade County Savings Awareness Week,” an effort to promote financial security and expand economic opportunity.
Diana Rodriguez, Special Assistant to Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez, is expected to present Catalyst Miami with a proclamation for their effort in promoting savings education in the community at the launch event, which will take place from 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM at 1900 Biscayne Boulevard, Suite 200, Miami, FL 33132. Commissioner-Elect Daniella Levine Cava, Catalyst Miami’s founder, is also expected to attend.
The Ways 2 Wealth program, created with the support of a $200,000 contribution from Citi Community Development, enables a nonprofit client to apply for a savings account onsite through a Web portal, without visiting a bank branch, saving time and empowering clients to put financial advice into action immediately. Participants in the program will also attend trainings, engage in financial coaching sessions with Catalyst Miami, and set personal financial goals. Participants who successfully complete the program will receive incentives of up to $125 after six months.
Participants in all Catalyst Miami financial, health, and wellness programs are eligible to enroll.
According to the Corporation for Enterprise Development, almost 50% of Florida households were found to be in a “persistent state of financial insecurity,” defined as lacking sufficient savings to cover basic needs during times of crisis. Miami-Dade County estimates were considerably higher, over 60%, well above the national rate.
Catalyst Miami aims to address these challenges, and increase awareness, by offering an array of savings education classes at numerous nonprofit agencies in Miami-Dade.
“We are very excited to offer residents of Miami-Dade County this new savings account with Citi,” said Gretchen Beesing, CEO of Catalyst Miami. “We see savings accounts as essential to establishing healthy financial habits. Our objective is to help clients plan their economic futures and provide opportunities for asset building.”
“This initiative by Catalyst Miami supports inclusive economic opportunities, access to financial services and prosperity for Miami-Dade County residents,” said Bob Annibale, Global Head of Community Development and Microfinance for Citi. “By combining financial coaching with easier access to a savings account, families can reduce their financial vulnerability and build assets to achieve long-term goals, whether they are higher education, home ownership or starting a business."
Catalyst Miami officially kicked off its Savings Awareness week at 10:00 AM on Tuesday, September 2nd with a savings education class in Liberty City. A complete list of activities is attached.
Miami-Dade County Savings Awareness Week
Monday, September 1st
Research Institute on Social and Economic Policy (RISEP) “State of Working Florida” Release
Where: CHOICES Kitchen, 711 NW 27th Ave, Miami, FL 33125
Tuesday, September 2nd
10:00 AM – Joseph Caleb Center 5400 NW 22 Avenue, Miami, FL 33142
6:00 PM – Restaurant Opportunities Center, 945 Pennsylvania Ave. Miami Beach 33139
Wednesday, September 3rd
10:30AM – Community Center, 833 6th Street, Miami Beach, FL 33139
11:00 AM – Miami Dade College Wolfson, 300 NE 2nd Avenue, Building 1, Room 1261, 33132
1:00 PM – Catalyst Miami, 1900 Biscayne Boulevard, Suite 200, Miami, FL 33132
5:00 PM – Dade County Federal Credit Union, 29850 S Dixie Hwy, Homestead, FL 33033
Thursday, September 4th
10:00 AM – Ways 2 Wealth Launch Event at Catalyst Miami
12:00 PM – Acción Center, 858 West Flagler Street
3:00 PM – Miami Dade College North, 11380 NW 27th Avenue, Miami, FL 331367
Friday, September 5th
10:00 AM – De Hostos Senior Center, 2902 NW 2nd Avenue, Miami, FL 33127
2:00 PM – Miami Dade College Wolfson, 300 NE 2nd Avenue, Miami, FL 33132###
About Catalyst Miami
Catalyst Miami is a nonprofit organization accelerating social justice in South Florida by promoting comprehensive household wellness, transforming individuals into grassroots leaders, and activating networks to fight poverty.
Additional information may be found at www.catalystmiami.org | Twitter: @CatalystMiami | Facebook: www.facebook.com/CatalystMiami
Citi, the leading global financial services company, has approximately 200 million customer accounts and does business in more than 160 countries and jurisdictions. Citi provides consumers, corporations, governments and institutions with a broad range of financial products and services, including consumer banking and credit, corporate and investment banking, securities brokerage, transaction services, and wealth management.
Additional information may be found at www.citigroup.com | Twitter: @Citi | YouTube: www.youtube.com/citi | Blog: http://new.citi.com | Facebook: www.facebook.com/citi | LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/company/citi
Special Transit Service fares will remain the same; Other services still face negative impact from proposed budget for 2014-15
The Cry Goes Up From Miami: Don’t Tread on Us!
To the Editor:
Nearly 20 years ago, at age 30, when I left my job as an academic in the Northeast to move near my family in Miami, I scoured the newspapers for events where I might meet like-minded folks.
One evening I called a poet friend, who was then living on South Beach, to suggest that we try a new club in the Design District. “I think we’ll find intellectuals there,” I told her.
“You mean people who wear glasses?” she joked.
Luckily, the joke was on us: The friends we made that night were the first we would come to know in Miami’s vast, vibrant and rich, culturally diverse community of intellectuals, artists and activists.
I highly recommend that on her next visit to South Florida, Pamela Druckerman enjoy a few deep thoughts at any of the many lectures, forums, salons and symposiums presented by Miami institutions such as ArtCenter/South Florida; Catalyst Miami; Miami Light Project; O, Miami; O Cinema; the Rhythm Foundation; Libreri Mapou. ...She will find that the list goes on and on.
CELESTE FRASER DELGADO
Miami, Aug. 10, 2014
The writer is an associate professor at Barry University and a longtime arts critic in Miami.