Climate gentrification in Little Haiti, part 2 (video story included)

For Part 1 of this series, click here.

Climate change gentrification is changing Miami real estate values, according to new research. Developers looking for houses on elevated land are moving from Miami Beach to inland communities, such as Little Haiti.

A small bookstore called Libreri Mapou is located on NE Second Avenue, one of the main streets in Little Haiti. Its owner, Jean Mapou, says that he could become a millionaire if he decided to sell the building where his store is located.

“I bought it for $81,000 in 1990, now they are offering $600,000,” Mapou said. “If I ask [for] $1 million, they would give it to me.”

Developers used to see Miami Beach as a perfect destination to invest, but now that paradise is threatened by sea level rise, more flooding and damaging storms. For that reason, individuals are moving into historically lower-income areas that are located on higher ground like Little Haiti, causing a whole new type of gentrification.

“We have received several hurricanes and bad weather and we never feel anything,” said Mapou.

With climate gentrification, properties in neighborhoods such as Liberty City and Little Haiti have gained a lot of value over the last few years. According to Zillow the median price for homes nowadays is $400,000 which is a big difference from the price in 2016, which was $180,000.

For realtor and broker Felix Ruiz, there’s more to the story than elevation. It is that Little Haiti is located near “hot spots” like downtown and Brickell, which attract people and investors.

“People are always going to look to be as close to the hot spots without the hot spots prices,” Ruiz said.

As for Little Haiti, residents are fearful that the housing crisis will keep growing as the sea level keeps rising.

For part 3 of this series, click here.


Maria Raudez grew up in Nicaragua and now studies broadcast journalism at Florida International University. She is passionate about women’s rights and political news and she’s a firm believer that journalism is a key to developing democracy.