BORDERLESS WITH BROOKLYN: Within own borders, Miami poverty is staggering

Miami is trying her hardest to compete as a real metropolitan city, but as the staggering poverty level continues to grow and the income disparities continue to widen, she and her citizens lose.

According to an MSNBC report that labeled Miami the number one “worst-run city in America,” (we beat Detroit…Detroit!), the city is riddled with economic disparities that manifest in a few core areas. Possessing the second highest rate of income inequality and the 13th highest crime rate in the nation, local politicians must address these issues if they want to see Miami continue to evolve socially and economically.

By: Brooklyn Middleton / Assistant Opinion Editor

Brooklyn Middleton / Assistant Opinion Editor

Its difficult to grasp the poverty rate, a shocking 32.4 percent. It is an obtuse concept, poverty, the word itself is an umbrella term that a myriad of social issues fall under. If there were a philosophical synonym for poverty, the closest word would be ‘deficiency.’   Not enough money is an obvious branch of the poverty tree, but infinite other branches include a lack of educational resources, hunger, homelessness and an inability to access proper (or any) health care.

Reading a statistic about poverty rates provides no context; you will get a small, modicum of an idea of what abject poverty looks like on a solely surface level, if you head to Overtown.

In Overtown, where a huge concentration of poverty is thriving, it looks like technicolor buildings that have been abandoned with wooden boards nailed over broken windows. It looks like expensive cars that roll by slowly and let out girls without ever fully coming to a complete stop.  It looks like kids playing in streets with potholes that need to be filled.

In every city, income disparities exist – but in Miami, they define it.  It is not just morally imperative to pour more funding into the impoverished neighborhoods of Miami, it’s a move in the right direction for overall prosperity and productivity.

Let’s assume for a moment you strongly believe in the American dream. You assert that one can get an education and if they work hard enough, sustain a career and healthy lifestyle.

This, you say, is a reality not just a mere notion of possibility. Thus, one must support initiatives that reinforce this mantra. By equalizing the playing field in these neighborhoods where children and young adults never had a fair start is not just “right,” it’s American.

As crime continues to overflow into greater Miami-Dade, the poorer neighborhoods  will get more attention. However, the attention must not be solely on erecting playgrounds and repaving decrepit streets; there has to be outreach to the systemic roots of poverty and crime.

As local politicians focus energy and resources on building swing sets and painting rust colored fences white, they have to shift their focus on giving resources directly into programs that benefit the peoples’ lives within the communities.

In other words, the $200,000 park that was funded by the Miami Community Redevelopment Agency and built by the Omni Parkwest Redevelopment Association, is a nice start and all but, the fact that it is impermanent, a concept that would be humorous if it were not a reality, and could after two years turn into a convention center, gives total pause to the entire idea.

Overtown and other poor neighborhoods in Miami need not just redevelopment but smart, citizen-oriented redevelopment.

After all, it was the construction of I-95 that fragmented Overtown in the first place and largely caused its economic decline.

A comment left by an anonymous user on an informal travel site to Miami had this to say about Liberty City, another neighborhood plagued by poverty and crime: “Do your best to avoid this place. It is by far the most disgustingly putrid location I have ever seen. The existential squalor is even worse than the South Bronx!”

The insensitivity and elitism in that comment is obvious, but its also a poignant statement; Miami’s poorest neighborhoods, as a whole, are indeed being avoided, when instead, they should be rediscovered.

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