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How to get from poverty to prosperity

Hey! Breaking news! Miami has some affordability issues.

Okay, not actually breaking news. But #notfakenews either.

Miami Dade County’s poverty rate is 19.8 percent – way higher than the national average. Sixty-one percent of renters spend more than a third of their income on housing. The experts call that being “cost-burdened.” Miami is the third most expensive housing market in the U.S. Only the top 5 percent of earners are gaining in prosperity. The rest of us are struggling more and more to afford the same. The divide has been dubbed the “prosperity gap.”

You’ve probably seen these numbers before. There’s a headline every week about how damn expensive it is to live in Miami, that even people with well-paying professional jobs are paycheck to paycheck; that no millennial is ever going to be able to afford to buy a house here; that our booming real estate and tech industries belie a hollow center.

But what does that mean?

It means that we have a large number of neighbors who are financially precarious. A major medical expense or an unexpected job loss could wipe them out in a month. The number of people in this situation is bigger than anyone realizes.

At The New Tropic, we want to make this city a better place to call home, someplace where people can afford to #livelikeyoulivehere. So does Citi’s Community Development team. So we’re teaming up to explain all this a little better, and start talking solutions through the Prosperity Project. There are some out there we haven’t heard about, and others coming down the pipe. Smart people are asking tough questions and grappling with grim realities to bring us much-needed fixes.

We talked to a few of them in the video above: Miami-Dade County Commissioners Jean Monestime and Daniella Levine-Cava, who have led this conversation in local government; Gretchen Beesing, the CEO of Catalyst Miami, one of our leading anti-poverty organizations; and Emily Gresham, an assistant vice president in FIU’s office of innovation and economic development who has a passion for connecting under-resourced communities to opportunity.

Local is more important than ever. So is getting to know your neighbors. It’s a rocky time right now. Addressing that starts in our backyard, with listening to each other.

So, we want to start by hearing your stories. How do you make it month to month? What would happen if you had to go to the emergency room? If you had a car accident and had to pay your $500 deductible to get it fixed? Could you do it? Would you have to go without something else to do it?

If that’s cool with you, we’d like to ask you a couple questions.

We’re looking forward to having this conversation with you in the coming months. Drop us a line at [email protected] to share your thoughts.

Editor’s note: The poverty rate was updated after publication.