Gentrification in Miami (includes photo essay)

To watch an acompanying video story, click here.

This photo essay follows the daily life of Michael Hernandez, a Florida International University student living in Little Havana, often drives to his nearest Dollar Tree, about five miles away, to get affordable groceries.

He is a full-time student and has a full-time job. who often shops in the frozen food section because it has easier options to cook. He is grateful to have options like this, but would rather go to higher-tier grocery stores like Publix and Whole Foods. he says the prices are too high for his budget.

Hernandez hopes to see fresh produce in Dollar Tree but makes do. He remains hopeful for the future and wants to make healthier choices despite the circumstances.

The Dollar Tree is 5 miles away from his apartment. He considers himself lucky for having a car to get him there. A lot of his neighbors have to rely on public transportation.

Between 2020 and 2022, The Healthy Little Havana organization assisted in distributing over 11,000 meals—many to individual homes. Because the greatest number of households without a car in Miami were residing in the neighborhood.

Michael shops at Dollar Tree sometimes because the other grocery stores are getting expensive. Also, with a full time job and school, he needs to find something easy to cook.

He likes to go to the frozen food section because it tends to have easier options to cook such as frozen burritos, ham & cheese, and frozen vegetables.

According to the Pro Food World organization, The frozen ready meals market in the United States is estimated at $17.5 billion.

Michael says he is grateful to have options like this but he would like to try going to Whole Foods or Publix to get fresh produce. Unfortunately, those stores are too much out of his way and out of his budget.

He would also like to see fresh produce in the Dollar Trees if that is ever possible.

According to a study done by UCLA, For low-income shoppers, produce spending fell by as much as 13.8% when there was one dollar store in the market and as much as 30.4% with three or more stores.

Buying frozen and canned foods are a cheap and easy alternative. Michael says he relies on these foods since the majority of his paycheck is spent on rent and utilities.

The average rent in Little Havana is $2,540. Michael has not seen a pay increase at his job yet.

He is hopeful for the future and wants to continue making healthier choices despite the circumstances.

Elizabeth Salazar is a senior FIU student pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Digital Communication and Multimedia. She is a South Florida-based freelance fashion photographer with 5+ years of experience. She enjoys video editing as well as being part of film productions. She hopes to one day be able to work alongside a team to create meaningful visual stories.

Gabriela Jelisse Fuentes Villafañe was born and raised in Puerto Rico. She moved to the United States when she was 12 years old. She is currently majoring in Broadcast Journalism, concentrating in Spanish. She hopes to be part of big Latino TV channels like Univision or Telemundo.

Dylan Harris is a junior FIU student pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Digital Communications/Broadcasting. He was born and raised in Hollywood, Florida. His passion for broadcasting and digital communications started very young because of his passion for media worldwide. He enjoys making sports podcasts about recent sports news. Dylan looks forward to achieving his goal of being able to work for 7 News in the Broadcasting section.