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January

Kevin Greiner, a fellow at FIU’s Jorge M. Perez Metropolitan Center that created the affordable housing report, said the finance corporation was actually suggested by city staff to make the process more efficient. “The issue going forward is one of scale, we need to ramp it up,” he told the commission.

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Miami is among the least affordable cities in the U.S., and needs to build or rehab 32,000 residential units over the next 10 years to help alleviate its affordability crisis, according to a new report from Florida International University. City of Miami commissioners will convene a meeting to focus on recommendations from FIU’s Affordable Housing Master Plan, as well as other options at a special meeting later this month.

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In 2002, prior to Miami 21’s passage, FIU’s Metropolitan Center released a study advocating the transformation of an old railyard into a complex of residential towers with retail and office mixed in as a means to promote economic development. The result was Midtown Miami, and Ned Murray contends it helped spark the revival of Wynwood, Edgewater, and the Design District. At the time, affordable housing wasn’t an issue, but that changed “very quickly” with the onset of Miami’s housing boom in 2004

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Ned Murray, associate director of Florida International University’s Jorge M. Pérez Metropolitan Center, presented aspects of the plan. Murray believes the affordable housing master plan created for Miami is a model for the entire country and is very doable. The ones that exist are aspirational, Murray said.

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The City of Miami ordered a study about a year ago to help solve its housing affordability crisis, and that plan was released this week by the Jorge M. Perez Metropolitan Center at FIU.

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The Miami Affordable Housing Master Plan, a radical 10-year road map to address the housing affordability crisis of the 470,000 residents of the City of Miami, was finally unveiled on Wednesday to a mostly positive response.

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If Miami’s political leaders are serious about solving the city’s growing affordability crisis, here’s what a sweeping new plan to be unveiled Wednesday says they need to do: Create a bank to finance affordable housing construction and renovations, streamline permitting and tweak zoning, then get small and mid-size developers churning out 3,200 units of housing every year for 10 years — a scale and pace that the plan’s authors call “unprecedented.”

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The public is invited to attend a City of Miami Sunshine Meeting from 10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. at Miami City Hall, 3500 Pan American Drive. City commissioners and their staff will review the Miami Affordable Housing Master Plan prepared by the Florida International University Jorge M. Perez Metropolitan Center that lays out a 10-year strategy to address the area’s affordable housing shortage.

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In 2019, we benefited from the generosity of some of our institution’s biggest champions, with philanthropic donations to our School of Music, the Metropolitan Center and for degree completion, among other things. And our Ignite program reached new heights with over 80 percent of FIU employees donating to worthy FIU programs.

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February

“Every data source we use is legitimate. While we consider ourselves data experts, we rely on the U.S. Census. That’s not unheard of to have two districts with the same median household income; that’s U.S. Census data at the block group level, not FIU,” Murray said.

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Affordable housing continues to concern Miami-Dade County and the City of Miami. Both are working with the Florida International University Jorge M. Pérez Metropolitan Center to consider options as housing prices increase beyond the reach of most locals.

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After nearly five hours of deliberation and public testimony, the Miami Affordable Housing Master Plan took another small step closer to fruition Friday after City of Miami commissioners voted 5-0 to accept the study’s findings. But the commission stopped far short of adopting and implementing the detailed plan, which lays out a 10-year strategy to build or preserve 32,000 affordable housing units within the City of Miami limits.

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March

“Just as we saw with the 2008 Recession, job losses will cut across most industry sectors and occupations,” said Ned Murray, associate director of FIU’s Perez Metropolitan Center, in an email. “While many occupations in these sectors are low wage, these are big industry sectors employing many professionals as well.”

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The Jorge Perez FIU Metropolitan Center has embarked on a comprehensive applied research initiative on the economic and social impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on South Florida. Our preliminary research has found there’s no widely accepted, consistent methodology for estimating the economic impacts of an infectious disease event the magnitude of COVID-19, and even less known about the short- and long-term impacts on local and regional economies and social environments.

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“We are an economy of small businesses,” Ned Murray, Associate Director of FIU Jorge M. Perez Metropolitan Center, said. “They’re going to be hurt because they don’t have the credit to survive this long term. They need demand, but in the “Covid economy,” that’s not a moving part right now.”

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The Jorge M. Pérez Metropolitan Center (PMC) remains open. We are operating remotely, but our team remains in close contact with each other and with the communities we serve. The nature of our work lends itself to telecommuting, which we’ve practiced for the last five years. Ned Murray, Maria Ilcheva, Caroline Bernard-Stokes, and I are here to assist you with the community development and applied social science needs you and your organizations are meeting during this new normal.

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“This is an evolving story line that is getting more concerning by the day,” said Ned Murray, associate director of Florida International University’s Jorge M. Perez Metropolitan Center. “Passenger demand is being impacted by both fear and government warnings to stay away from cruises altogether.

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April

FIU’s Jorge M. Perez Metropolitan Center hosts “Economic and Community Impacts of COVID-19 on South Florida,” at 10 a.m. Panelists include Howard M. Frank, Phd, center director; County Commissioner Daniela Levine-Cava; John Talmadge, economic development director for Lee County; Sunny Isles Beach Commissioner Jeniffer Viscarra and Sunny Isles Beach City Manager Chris Russo.

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More than one-third of South Florida’s workforce earns less than $600 a week, according to the Florida International University Jorge M. Pérez Metropolitan Center. The federal CARES Act stimulus offers $600 in unemployment benefits a week, compared with the Florida maximum of $275 a week.

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Experts with FIU's Perez Metropolitan Center forecast hardest hit will be low-wage, less educated, women and the young who rely on the hospitality and tourism industries, while chamber of commerce president predicts one in five small businesses will fail.

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“There’s never been anything quite like this in terms of industry shutdowns or near-shutdowns, and these are our major industry sectors here in South Florida,” said Ned Murray, associate director of the Met Center. Murray calls to mind the “Great Recession” of the late 2000s, where the United States lost 10 million jobs in the first two years, whereas with COVID-19, the nation has lost 10 million jobs in the first two weeks.

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“If unemployment hits 10%, that’s at least 137,000 jobs gone in Miami-Dade,” Ned Murray, of FIU Metropolitan Center, said. “I think its very likely the rate gets higher than 10%. There are some estimates the national unemployment rate could be 20% or more.”

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In a 2018 report, the Metropolitan Center at Florida International University found that nearly 55,000 of the more than 80,000 employers in the county have four or fewer employees. Those small-business employees are also among the lowest-earning workers: People who work in such micro-businesses earned 19 percent less than those working in businesses with more than 100 employees.

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“COVID-19 is the motherlode of economic shocks,” said Ned Murray, associate director of FIU’s Jorge M. Pérez Metropolitan Center. “We are going to become the poster child for this crisis right away because of our high housing costs and reliance on industries dominated by low-wage employment.”

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More than half Miami’s economic output comes from the 82,000 companies with fewer than 500 employees, according to a Florida International University study. More than half of those — almost 55,000 — have fewer than 5 employees. Unlike large corporations, small firms are less likely to have access to lines of credit, and are also less able to exert leverage over a landlord to relax lease terms.

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Edward Ned Murray, a professor at the Florida International University Jorge M. Pérez Metropolitan Center, said he expects job losses in Miami-Dade and Broward will exceed 100,000 each this year. The center is researching the short and long-term economic and social impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. "If unemployment hits 10%, that's at least 137,000 jobs gone in Miami-Dade," he said.

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Did you know that some of the services impacted by the Census include public safety, transportation, health, education and economic development? At a local level, FIU students and researchers rely on census figures every day to better understand population characteristics, business information and assess needs and service gaps.

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June

The veto was disappointing but not unexpected, said Ned Murray, associate director at Florida International University’s Jorge M. Pérez Metropolitan Center. “Affordable housing has never been a high priority at the state level,” Murray said. “We should be propping up these programs, not eliminating or defunding them.”

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More than half of the 374 nonprofits surveyed by FIU reported drops in revenue. Nearly 40 percent have had to add services or retool operations in response to the pandemic. Most of the groups also expect severe, long-term drops in donations and revenue that threaten their future, the report shows. That shortfall points to a need for a broad community strategy and “a call to donors” to raise funds to ensure their continued operation, said the study’s principal researcher, Maria Ilcheva.

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Miami’s rapid expansion is largely to blame, said Ned Murray, associate director of the Jorge M. Pérez Metropolitan Center at Florida International University, a finding born out in a 2019 Miami Herald series, Priced out of Paradise. “What’s striking about Miami’s downtown neighborhoods that were predominantly settled by people of color, immigrants and lower income people is just how strategically located they are.”

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In the first broad look at the nonprofit sector here in 14 years, academic researchers probed the staffing, income, expenditures, service ranges and far more of the staggering total of 9,331 501c(3) nonprofits in Miami-Dade.

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July

Dr. Ned Murray, with the FIU Metropolitan Center, said, “260,000 jobs have been lost in Miami-Dade alone. Since March, 266,000.” Murray said we are only now beginning to see and feel the coronavirus economic impact. “We are starting to see it in cross sections right now. The professional sector among sole proprietor, so called gig workers, see it in finance,” he said.

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FIU’s Metropolitan Center did a [communitywide] prosperity study a while back. Most studies as they relate to Blacks have been about their being socially disadvantaged and what they don’t have, but we’ve not examined what the prosperity levels look like among Black people. So we want to enlist support to do such a study of Black prosperity, particularly in South Florida. That begins to change the narrative about how Blacks are viewed.

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While home-ownership grew nationally over the period 2012-2018 for whites, Blacks and Hispanics saw a decline. In South Florida, home-ownership contracted for all groups — by 4% for Blacks, from 49% to 45%; by 5.2% for Latinos, from 56.8% to 51.6%, and by 2.1% for whites, from 75.6% to 73.5%. The increase in residential prices and tight incomes are key contributors, said Ned Murray, associate director of the FIU Metropolitan Center.

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Florida nonprofits are feeling the COVID-19 squeeze, according to a survey from Florida International University’s Jorge M. Perez Metropolitan Center in Miami. Anticipated revenue is down, layoffs are up and the basic ways they conduct business are changing dramatically.

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Many of the 60,000-plus South Florida residents who work directly and indirectly for the cruise industry have seen their salaries cut or their jobs disappear entirely, a loss of $303 million in income per month, according to an analysis by the Florida International University Jorge M. Perez Metropolitan Center. Those who shuttle cruise passengers to the port, feed crew members, and move luggage on and off the ships are dipping into their savings to survive.

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“The spike in new coronavirus infections will have an added adverse effect on the economy and employment,” said Ned Murray, associate director of the Jorge M. Perez Metropolitan Center at Florida International University, in an email. “This will result in a further decline in consumer demand and additional layoffs, especially in the Accommodation and Food Services Sector and gig workers.”

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August

“Those who can — the wealthy and wealthier retirees — will not stick around northern states in the cold winter and beyond while being shut in by the pandemic,” says Ned Murray, associate director of Florida International University’s Metropolitan Center. “This could have a significant impact on the housing supply, which is already getting tight.”

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With some exceptions, mostly Black neighborhoods in Miami-Dade are typically places of concentrated poverty and unemployment, said Ned Murray, associate director of the Jorge M. Perez Metropolitan Center at Florida International University. The center creates an economic scorecard for the county covering 17 majority-Black areas.

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Today, the streets still hum with a vibrancy born of the community’s Black roots, but unlike Harlem, Overtown has not been revitalized. Much of the town’s residents were displaced in the 1960s when construction of I-95 and I-395 tore through the heart of the community. And nearly 40 percent of residents live in poverty, according to a 2016 study from the FIU Metropolitan Center.

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According to Roldan, that divide makes groups that are already hard to count even harder to reach during the pandemic, which might contribute to a low response rate this year. Those factors are part of the reason the Census Bureau is relying on local governments to reach their residents and explain why the Census is important.

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Broward County has already been in need of more affordable housing well before the coronavirus pandemic began to impact most areas of life. Renters that are considered severely cost-burdened spend more than 50 percent or more of their income on housing. In Broward, the last several years have shown those households on the rise, according to a 2018 report by the FIU Metropolitan Center.

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September

UnidosUS, Centro Campesino, and the Jorge M. Pérez FIU Metropolitan Join Together to Host a National Webinar on the Growing Local and National Affordable Housing Challenges in the COVID Economy

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“Lower income households do spend most of [their stimulus] money because they have to purchase the necessities, like food and medicine,” said Ned Murray, associate director of the Jorge M. Pérez Metropolitan Center. “So you know that if they are getting assistance, they are putting it back into the economy — more so than say wealthy people who can afford to save that money or redirect it to other sources.”

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Before the coronavirus pandemic hit, Florida’s unemployment rate hovered around three percent. But as businesses closed down and people were told to stay home, the jobless numbers rose. In July, unemployment in Miami-Dade was around 14 percent, according to the Metropolitan Center at Florida International University

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Demands on nonprofits continue to increase, yet according to FIU Metropolitan Center’s recent economic impact report, more than 30% of local organizations have had to lay off staff, over half are expecting major decreases in donations, and a majority expect revenue losses of up to 75% due to the COVID-19 public health crisis.

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“I think we need to look at gentrification in Miami in particular as cancer,” said Murray. ”It’s these first levels of investment that come in the community from the outside. It doesn’t belong there, just like a tumor doesn’t belong there.”

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October

“We’ve lost so many jobs,” said Ned Murray, director of the Jorge M. Pérez Metropolitan Center at Florida International University. “The question is, where do those workers go?” An economic shock such as COVID-19 causes industries to restructure and invest in cost-saving technology — which usually means fewer workers, Murray said. He pointed to the Great Recession of 2008 when banks began to increasingly rely on contract workers.

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“Hurricane Andrew cut across the state and stayed south,” said Dr. Ned Murray, associate director of FIU’s Metropolitan Center. “If Hurricane Irma had kept its projected track, which at one point had it going straight up the I-95 corridor, you’re looking at at least 258,000 properties and nearly a million people living in substandard units that would have been highly vulnerable.”

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