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07, 2011

Terri Page
tpage@miamidade.gov
786-469-4662

Florida Association of Community Action ''2nd Annual Symposium on Poverty'' Engaged Key Partners and the Community to Formulate an Agenda for the Florida Commission on Poverty

Concerned residents discussed strategies to eliminate poverty

Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez at the 2nd Annual Symposium on Poverty


Miami-Dade Community Action Agency (CAA) hosted the Florida Association for Community Action's (FACA) 2nd Annual Symposium on Poverty on October 6, 2011, at the Miami-Dade College, Wolfson Campus.  The theme of this year's conference was, "Engaging Key Partners in Addressing Poverty." The goal of the symposium was to raise the awareness regarding the issues of poverty and to frame solutions that will inevitability reduce the causes of poverty. An action plan consisting of strategies which address poverty will be developed in order to effectuate policy change locally and statewide.

In his welcoming address, Dr. William Zubkoff, the Chairperson of the Miami-Dade Community Action Agency Board, framed his comments around the issue of jobs and its importance in driving our local economy.  "Job creation and sustainment are pivotally important in helping individuals attain self-sufficiency," Dr. Zubkoff.

Miami-Dade County Mayor, Carlos A. Gimenez, spoke stridently about the issue of poverty in Miami-Dade County and the state of Florida. He commended FACA for its leadership role in working supportively with the network of Community Action Agencies in the State of Florida and presented the organization with a County proclamation honoring their valuable work. Mayor Gimenez also emphasized the role that the Community Action Agency has assumed in the provision of direct services that benefit low-income children, their families, the elderly and individuals seeking to improve their socio-economic circumstances.

A presentation on the issue of poverty was conducted by Dr. Ned Murray of Florida International University's Metropolitan Center.  Dr. Murray offered a very informative presentation on the housing, employment and transportation trends in Miami-Dade County.  The statistics presented were used as a framework for the three Breakout Sessions in which participants were encouraged to develop a framework consisting of strategies  and solutions to address challenges related to high unemployment, affordable housing, transportation challenges, the disproportionate share of personal income being applied to housing and transportation choices,  low paying wages from a service sector economy,  health, nutrition, education and the need to create a skilled workforce that would serve to attract companies that offered  higher paying salaries.

A panel discussion was facilitated with a diverse group of community leaders who offered varying perspectives on the issues presented by Dr. Murray. The panelists consisted of: Daniella Levine, President and CEO of Catalyst Miami; David Lawrence, President of the Early Childhood Initiative foundation; Marisel Losa, President and CEO of the Health Council of South Florida; Rick Beasley, Executive Director, South Florida Workforce; Harve Mogul, President and CEO of the United Way of Miami-Dade County and John Edwards, Chairman of the Community Action Partnership.  The issues presented centered on asset building, using the statistics to support policy change,  altering funding priorities domestically, individual accountability, developing empowerment based strategies under a new paradigm, changing our approaches  to a more innovative and unconventional strategy to effect change, educating  elected officials about the importance of tackling the issue of poverty and the need to support programs which are impactful, the critical need for higher paying jobs and the importance of attracting companies to the area that offer higher paying opportunities.

The call to action was presented by Dr. Gene R. Nichol, Professor of Law and Director of the Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity at the University of North Carolina. Dr. Nichol gave an uplifting and passionate presentation that harkened back to the original mission and purpose of the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964, while also highlighting the current political, social and economic climate and context of poverty in this country. He implored the attendees to take an active role in facilitating change. He asserted that participants should not be adjusted or satisfied with the current status quo, and that individuals should be "maladjusted" as long as there is rising poverty rates, increasing societal problems and injustice occurring.

For more information about the programs and services provided through the Community Action Agency please call 786-469-4600 or visit us on the web at Miami-Dade County.  For information about the Florida Association of Community Action, please call 850-224-4774 or on the web at FACA.