“When I first arrived in the U.S. in 1981, an area like Sabal Palm for example in Little Haiti, was inhabited mainly by Haitian immigrants,” writes Bastien, the head of Family Action Network Movement (FANM). “Through the process of gentrification and forced displacement, most of the Haitians lost their homes. Today, Little Haiti is believed to be the ‘fastest gentrified area in the U.S.’ Many home and business owners have been evicted from spaces that they’ve occupied for 30-40 years.”
Representatives for the Magic City Innovation District in response tell New Times that they met with hundreds of community residents and leaders while planning the project. Danielle Alvarez, a spokesperson for the development group, declined to comment on any alleged insults thrown by Neil Fairman, one of the project’s lead investors. (Fairman has since sent the city his own open letter — he says Bastien misquoted him and misrepresented the community-outreach work he’s done for the project.)
But recent reports suggest Bastien isn’t exaggerating about her concerns. In 2017, the Miami Herald reported on the tragic story of Joseph Wilfrid Daleus, a Haitian artist who died at the age of 68, only months after rapidly rising rents forced him to close his art gallery on NE Second Avenue. Friends told the Herald that Daleus died of “heartbreak.”
Numerous studies, meanwhile, have marked Little Haiti as one of the fastest-gentrifying areas in Florida, especially because the neighborhood sits on some of the highest ground in Miami and is last in line to flood as the seas rise.
Source: Miami New Times