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January

Will a new shared office space work in the post-COVID-19 era? Edward “Ned” Murray, an urban planner and an associate director at Florida International University’s Jorge M. Pérez Metropolitan Center, isn’t so sure. He pointed out that shared office spaces were not doing well even before the COVID-19 pandemic, since it’s more economical for private contractors and freelancers – a major market for shared office spaces – to simply turn their homes into offices.

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February

“We still don’t have the positive economic indicators that will slow down the moving out of the county in terms of wages and jobs, and especially in terms of housing,” said Maria Ilcheva, Assistant Director of Planning and Operations for the Jorge M. Perez Metropolitan Center at Florida International University. “That’s what’s primarily driving prices up: There is higher demand, but the higher demand is not being driven by local conditions.”

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Florida International University recently announced that researchers have created a tool that tracks South Florida’s recovery from the pandemic. The researchers at the Jorge M. Pérez Metropolitan Center created the monthly COVID Economic Recovery Index, tracking tri-county indicators in health, housing and the economy and comparing them to state and national statistics.

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“The impact of COVID-19 on our region is unprecedented,” said Ned Murray, associate director of the Jorge M. Pérez FIU Metropolitan Center. “We hope to quantify the impact of the pandemic through this index and guide policymakers in their decisions during the economic recovery.”

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March

“COVID has underscored long-standing inequalities in our system—the differentials in death rates, and more recently, vaccination rates, between minority and white populations are real,” says Howard Frank, professor and chair of public policy and administration and director of the Jorge M. Perez Metropolitan Center. “These are issues our students need to understand and be aware of.”

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April

The Jorge M. Pérez FIU Metropolitan Center recently released a policy brief entitled “Racial Equity and Inclusion: From Words to Action” that offers suggestions on how to make Miami-Dade a more equitable place. “A just community begins with an equitable economy where the path to prosperity is clear to the eyes of Black Americans,” wrote the study’s co-authors Ned Murray and Nika Zyryanova.

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May

Nika Zyryanova is a researcher with Florida International University’s Jorge M. Perez Metropolitan Center. Zyryanova said high rents and low paying jobs in metropolitan areas of South Florida has caused many people to move to more affordable places in the state over the course of the pandemic.

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The increases to Miami-Dade's already notoriously high cost of living come while the county is still trying to resuscitate itself after a pandemic-induced economic lull that has left many residents still unemployed. The rising prices are part of a decades-long arc of local real estate madness and are likely to have serious consequences in the coming months and years, according to Ned Murray, associate director of Florida International University's Jorge M. Pérez Metropolitan Center.

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"We’ve never been the center of the state but we’ve been the center of attention. So now the center of the state will become the center of attention,” said Dr. Maria Ilcheva, the assistant director of Florida International University’s Metropolitan Center - which was part of the local census committee.

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"Where we teach financial literacy is just as important as what we teach. We need to invest in education for youths in underserved communities to develop this skill set." - Dr. Joanne Li, dean, professor of finance and Ryder Eminent Scholar Chair at Florida International University College of Business and a member of the CNBC Financial Wellness Council.

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The pandemic made in-person follow-ups more difficult, said Maria Ilcheva, an expert in data analytics and behavioral research at the Metropolitan Center at Florida International University who was a researcher on reports on Census outreach efforts in Broward and Miami-Dade counties. It was difficult to find and train those workers and get them into the field during the pandemic. Still, Ilcheva said, the Census Bureau was largely successful in collecting information “in the context of the pan

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June

While Miami remains without an affordable housing masterplan, cheap housing continues to disappear, a devastating situation in a municipality where the median household income is $39,000 a year. Edward “Ned” Murray, associate director of the Jorge M. Pérez Metropolitan Center, said the rising cost of living is making it impossible for Miamians to stay in Miami. “That,” he said, “is why so many workers have migrated out of Miami.”

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Just 18% of households in Palm Beach County can afford the median price of a home, according to an assessment by the Jorge M. Pérez Metropolitan Center at Florida International University. The numbers are even bleaker to the south, where about 15% of Broward County households and 9% of Miami-Dade County can afford the median home price.

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FIU researcher Nika Zyryanova said before COVID-19, a quarter of a million renter households were cost-burdened, meaning they were spending more than 30 percent of their income on housing and 90 percent of renters were making less than of $35,000 dollars a year. “Renter assisted need far exceeds what is available,” Zyryanova said. “With that type of income you really can’t afford to live in Miami-Dade.”

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Edward “Ned” Murray, associate director of the Jose M. Pérez Metropolitan Center, said hedge funds and corporations aren’t just purchasing apartment buildings and condos. They’re also buying single-family homes. The end result is that purchasing a home is beyond the reach of the average Miami-Dade resident. “Every month there is a contract signing for a home that is 30% above the asking price,” Murray said.

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July

Developed with researchers at FIU’s Jorge M. Pérez Metropolitan Center, the Broward County Equity Initiative for the Urban League of Broward County and Hollywood-based Hispanic Unity of Florida will recommended actions for the county based on its findings.

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This all concerns Ned Murray, the director of the Metropolitan Center at Florida International University in Miami-Dade County. He and other experts are worried about the evictions that landlords have already filed in Miami-Dade courts. “These renters many of which work in our service sector economy just don’t have the money to pay their rent or their past rent so we are going to have an avalanche of evictions,” Murray said.

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“Affordable home ownership programs are just as important as affordable rental programs,” said Ned Murray, associate director of Florida International University’s Pérez Metropolitan Center, “though the need in Miami is greater for affordable rental housing.”

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But when the CDC program dies, barring a last-minute extension due to the new surge in COVID cases around the U.S., 188,000 “severely distressed” renters in Miami-Dade already paying more than half of their income on rent will be particularly vulnerable to eviction, according to Dr. Ned Murray, associate director of the Florida International University Metropolitan Center.

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“Equity and inclusivity is a national issue,” said Maria Ilcheva, of the FIU Metropolitan Center. “With our assistance and in collaboration, we are trying to find local solutions to a national problem for Boynton Beach.”

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August

No hard data shows newcomers are better positioned to afford higher rents than locals. Yet, while some out-of-staters are getting local jobs at income levels that have long lagged states like New York and California, it is likely not a majority, said Nika Zyryanova, research specialist at FIU’s Metropolitan Center.

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“[COVID] was the great accelerator,” said Ned Murray, associate director of the Metropolitan Center at Florida International University. “Given all the indicators — job loss, labor force, and housing costs — it’s created a situation where people have had to get up and leave, even more so than what we were seeing before COVID.”

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“Tech is really hurting Miami in terms of housing costs,” said Ned Murray, the director of the Florida International University Metropolitan Center. “We can’t talk about the economy without talking about housing, they’re so interrelated. ... What’s happening now is a hyper-level of gentrification. It’s unbelievable to see it happening so quickly.”

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September

“The wages that are being paid have little bearing on a worker’s ability to pay that monthly rent, “said Dr. Edward Murray, associate director with the Jorge M. Perez Metropolitan Center at Florida International University.

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Murray said affordable housing has become so scarce that rents are rising in places like Homestead. What’s worse, the county’s economy still hasn’t recovered from the COVID-19 pandemic. A recent Metropolitan Center report showed that Miami-Dade lost 134,459 jobs between February 2020 and June 2021, the majority in the leisure and hospitality sectors.

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