Community seeks solutions to growing job dilemma

mcneir | 12/22/2011, 11:06 a.m.

After months of canvassing a diverse spectrum of Miami-Dade County's low-income neighborhoods, the community-based group 1MIAMI recently held a press conference to reveal the findings of its survey. What resulted from the research and interviews of nearly 1,000 residents in neighborhoods including Liberty City, Miami Gardens, Allapattah, Hialeah, Little Haiti, Little Havana, North Miami and mobile homes in different sections of the County, was a report that demonstrated how dire Miami-Dade's unemployment situation truly is and the personal plights of the people who make up the statistics. "The city is in crisis," said Eric Brakken, director of 1MIAMI. "A poor city, an unequal city, has become even more unequal." Ricardo Dormevil, a community activist in the North Miami and Little Haiti areas said the local residents interviewed told him that they were constantly looking, but can't find jobs. "That's why we are calling for the local government to find more jobs, whether public works projects, or to work with the private sector." Yvonne Saint Gerard, a coordinator at Jackson Memorial Hospital, told the group that the employment crisis does not stop in just low-income communities. She says that many hospital employees come see her and express their frustrations over pay cuts and forced furloughs, while the price for every day items keeping going three or four times a year. "Milk cost more than gas," said Saint Gerard. "More people are working under the table, and these are middle-class people. Even people with incomes over $100,000-a-year are concerned." Kit Rafferty, director for the community-based Jobs with Justice, says her members will continue to fight to improve the conditions of an often overlooked group those who live in mobile homes. "Mobile home parks are the last unsubsidized affordable housing for low-income families," she said. "We want companies to look at these people and hire them. We want to help them buy the land for their mobile homes. In these trailer parks, they own the home, but not the land. We need to use the results of this survey as leverage and hold the feet of our elected officials to the fire." Brakken says based on the results of their survey, elected officials should be urged to do the following: support investments in public service and infrastructure developments; persuade the wealthiest individuals and corporations to pay their fair share; turn bad jobs into good jobs jobs with no benefits and those paying poverty wages; and encourage a diverse economy by helping locally-owned businesses grow. Angela Samuels fought back tears as she explained that it was 1MIAMI's coming to her aid and stopping the eviction on her home that made her an eager worker for the organization. "We are going to fight for jobs, for education and for healthcare, she said. Gregory W. Wright g.w.wright@hotmail.com