Little Haiti commercial center
Commercial center in Little Haiti in Miami, Florida. (Photo credit: Marc Averette / Wikimedia – cropped photo)

Almost 40 years ago, Marleine Bastien fled a brutal dictatorship in Haiti. She resettled in an impoverished area of Miami that came to be known as Little Haiti. She says refugees worked hard to buy homes and build a community there …

Bastien: “… out of sheer resilience and determination, working oftentimes twelve or eighteen hours a day.”

Little Haiti became a thriving community. But Bastien says many of its longtime residents are being priced out as wealthier people and developers move in.

She says climate change is helping drive this gentrification. Little Haiti is further inland and several feet higher in elevation than areas like Miami Beach. So as sea levels rise …

Bastien: “… those with influence and affluence are seeking higher grounds.”

Bastien directs the Family Action Network Movement. The nonprofit is fighting to ensure that development plans for Little Haiti include affordable housing and support for local businesses. She says it’s critical that community voices are heard.

Bastien: “The homeowners, the business owners, those who built their neighborhood out of sheer resilience, determination, and sacrifices and strength and blood and tears must be part of the dialogue. They must be at the table.”

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media.

Topics: Jobs & Economy