Welcome to the SMASH blog, here you can look through our posts on everything Smash The Slumlords. We post an updated weekly schedule every Monday as well as all out meeting notes on Thursdays. We will also post any special events or situations on here so keep and eye out and get informed.
Rats, roaches, rotting fixtures and layers of black mold were a daily reality for Gigi, living in Abe Vaknin’s slums. Initially, Gigi and I did not get along, and when I told her we were organizing residents to fight back, she refused to be part of it because she worked for Abe. She even threw me out of her apartment! But we never gave up on Gigi and since that time, she’s found a new place to live and has become an active smasher of slumlords. She is now SMASH’s Board Chair and is on her way to creating a successful candle-making and gift basket business!
If you recognize the importance of Gigi’s story, we ask you to support us with your dollars this Give Miami Day! It will be on Thursday, Nov. 16th 2017!
Donate to SMASH and The Miami Foundation will match a portion of your donation!
Our work is progressing! We have expanded our strategy to include the development of an LGBTQ Transitional Housing facility to meet the growing needs of the county’s LGBTQ homeless youth. The Expedited Housing Project built on a community-led and designed land trust has earned support from Miami Homes for All, the City of Miami Mayor and the Community Development Director.
Take a look at some of our recent appearances in the media:
Our members have been accepted into the University of Miami Community Scholars in Affordable Housing, The Allegany Fellowship for the Common Good and the Maven Leadership Collective! SMASH got grants to attend the conferences of the National Community Reinvestment Alliance, Grounded Solutions and the Florida Housing Coalition! These are the trainings we need in order to make SMASH a true non-profit affordable housing developer and to empower community leaders like Gigi!
Together with you, we will continue to smash the slumlords, end gentrification and develop Miami for the people, by the people.
Thank you! 😀
My husband and I live in the Miami neighborhood of Little Havana. We pay over $1000/mo on a 300 sq ft studio apartment that has no working A/C, and the kind of roach infestation that belongs in a horror movie. It’s not ideal, but it’s the most affordable place we can find, as can most Miamians forced to make the same undignified decisions because of rampant gentrification–and we count ourselves as the lucky ones. For hundreds of other LGBTQ individuals in Miami-Dade, their home is either the street or a slumlord building, and they frequently resort to having their bodies exploited just so that they’ll have a dry place to sleep.
LGBTQ Homelessness is not a phenomenon unique to Miami. The land where Mike Pence is Vice President is also the land of parents tossing their kids on the street because of their “lifestyle choices”, and no amount of gay marriage or Will and Grace coming back is going to prevent that from being a reality for many of our siblings. However, Miami makes this challenge uniquely difficult. That’s because gentrification and it’s associated Affordable Housing Crisis are spreading equal opportunity misery to every working class resident. There isn’t enough affordable housing of any kind, let alone free housing for the homeless.
In response, we’ve decided to do something about it. Over a year ago, we started a non-profit called the Struggle for Miami’s Affordable and Sustainable Housing (SMASH). Our goal is to #SmashTheSlumlords, end gentrification and develop Miami for the people, by the people. Our first project, in partnership with Neighbors and Neighbors Association, will create expedited housing units for Miamians in need of emergency shelter, and it will be built in a self-sustaining way through low-cost pre-fabricated modular units, or shipping containers. A local LGBTQ Community Center called Pridelines is collaborating with us on the project to set aside as many units as possible to shelter the numerous LGBTQ homeless youth that frequent their center on a daily basis. Over the next few weeks, we are meeting with funders and allies to gather support for this piece of the project.
It’s important to understand that any attempt to solve the LGBTQ Homelessness Problem in Miami is doomed to failure if it does not also competently address the greater housing affordability problem that contributes to it. Miami attracts the world’s wealthiest people, which makes living here as a local very expensive. Most Miamians can’t afford a home, so they rent, and 68% of those renters are unable to afford their lease. The rental market is so distorted that even the worst apartments, complete with rats, mold and ghastly sewage problems still charge upwards of $600/mo, and for families living on the fixed income of SSI (usually $700-800/mo) that’s where the majority of their check goes.
Affordability in Miami is the defining struggle of the moment, and organizations constantly try and fail to overcome it. What makes the SMASH approach different is not just what is being developed, but how it’s being developed. We emphasize a community-led, grassroots approach to development that ensures our project is a true product of the neighborhood, and not some foreign invader aiming to change the area to suit the tastes of the wealthy ruling class. One of the democratic models we are pursuing is a Community Land Trust (CLT). CLTs allow groups of people to own and control land, and then offer their members the opportunity to own buildings on that land while keeping the land itself permanently in the community’s control. It’s a cool system that was invented by African-American farmers in the 1960s fighting racist lending practices, and the model has expanded to facilitate the community led development of clinics, child-care centers, super markets, gardens and of course, affordable housing. By making the LGBTQ Homeless Shelter part of this larger model, we are protecting it from the future pressures of gentrification, slumlords, speculative development and economic shock through true, democratic community control. We do this primarily because we know what happens when funding dries up or restrictive covenants hit their expiration dates: worthy organizations close their doors, housing is lost and people become homeless once again. If we’re serious about ending that vicious cycle, CLTs are a must.
Given the severity of the problem, and the comprehensive way we’re trying to fix it, you would assume that our organization is well supported financially. I wish that were the case. SMASH is still very small, with zero paid staff. Even I, the Executive Director, do not receive a salary, and for many of the worthy organizations doing important work in Miami, the story is the same. We do this because we care, and in my particular case, it’s a matter of survival. I love Miami, and I’m proud to be from here, but every day it gets harder and harder to stay here, and if my husband were to (God forbid) lose his job, we would literally go homeless too. We need the support of people like you in order to sustain this important work and make a real difference. Lives depend on it.
Visit www.smashtheslumlords.org to learn more and get involved.
Struggle for Miami’s Affordable and Sustainable Housing (SMASH)
“Much of our high ground lies along a geologic formation known as the coastal ridge, which elevates parts of neighborhoods like Liberty City and Little Haiti up to 13 feet above sea level. While segregation and red-lining made these less desirable neighborhoods for a long time, residents worry the higher ground is now luring outsiders who will soon price them out.
“We’re starting to see climate gentrification on a high level. People think we’re joking, or we are making it up, or it’s not a thing, but it is,” says Valencia Gunder, lead organizer for New Florida Majority and a Liberty City resident”
Check out the full article by The New Tropic
Every once in a while, STS believes its necessary to give our long-time supporters and any newcomers a comprehensive summary on all the progress we’ve made so far. So here you are!
Smash the Slumlords launched in July of 2015 to tackle the issues of Slum and Gentrification in Miami through a community controlled and self-sustaining strategy. It was and still is an initiative led by the residents of Overtown, Liberty City, and Little Havana. This called for the creation of BOTH a non-profit and a for-profit. We could named them Project Homeland and Project Gold at the time.
Then we decided to form the Struggle for Miami’s Affordable and Sustainable Housing (SMASH) a non-profit with the mission of creating a Community Land Trust to provide affordable housing for families living in slum conditions. SMASH was officially determined tax-exempt by the IRS in August of 2016, but the incorporation happened on Feb. 22nd 2016.
We then started to have a series of videogame tournaments and events that would form the basis for the co-op business we wanted to develop. We found especially great success at Hotel Gaythering with the weekly Gaymer Nights!
WORLDS, LLC then officially incorporated in the 3rd Quarter of 2016, and started planning an ambitious official launch tournament, but eventually had to cancel:
Simultaneously, SMASH kept recruiting board members from the affected areas and started putting together strategies for slumlord abatement in Miami from the grassroots up:
This resulted in SMASH’s most ambitious and most comprehensive proposal, the Transitional Sanctuary:
Which brings us to the current day, where we are currently putting together a development team to bring the Transitional Sanctuary idea to reality. We have some good leads and have received great support from all over the community! Our efforts in the Liberty City Committee on Slum and Gentrification (LCCSG) are also worthy of note, because they are the way SMASH plans to put all of our ideas on the Community Land Trust that is vital to their longevity and success. The LCCSG will be having its first event at the end of January called Our Homes, Our Land: Reclaiming Miami:
And now you’re all caught up!
We have a very loaded week for SMASH with everything from meetings, to fundraisers and even a radio interview! This is the big week of Give Miami Day, we want to encourage all of you to log into the link we will be putting up later this week and donate to smash in order to help us end slum and blight in Miami. If you can’t do it online join us at Hotel Gaythering on Wednesday were we will be collecting donations during our usual game night in the spirit of Give Miami Day.
Finally, we have two very important meetings this week which we would like to invite you to, this board meeting is particularly important as we will be holding elections of the board.
Hola a Todos,
Tenemos una semana muy cargada para SMASH con todo, desde reuniones, recaudación de fondos e incluso una entrevista de radio! Esta es la gran semana de Give Miami Day, queremos animar a todos ustedes a que se conecten en el enlace que pondremos más adelante esta semana y donar a aplastar para ayudarnos a acabar con los tugurios y la plaga en Miami. Si no lo puede hacer en línea, únase a nosotros en el Hotel Gaythering el miércoles, estaremos recolectando donaciones durante nuestra noche de juego habitual en el espíritu de Give Miami Day.
Por último, tenemos dos reuniones muy importantes esta semana, a las que nos gustaría invitarles, esta reunión de la Junta es particularmente importante ya que vamos a celebrar las elecciones del consejo.
We want to wish everyone a spooky Halloween and a solemn Dia de los Muertos on this week. Even though there are festivities, the hard work never stops. Please take a look at the calendar of events for this week for SMASH and make sure you come to any of the events that interest you.
As always we would also like to encourage you in joining us at any of the events or meetings marked as OPEN.
Hola a Todos,
Queremos desear a cada uno un Halloween espeluznante y un solemne Día de los Muertos en esta semana. A pesar de que existen fiestas, el trabajo duro nunca se detiene. Por favor, eche un vistazo a la agenda de eventos para esta semana para SMASH y asegurarse de que llega a cualquiera de los eventos que le interesan.
Como siempre también nos gustaría animaros en unirse a nosotros en cualquiera de los eventos o reuniones marcados como OPEN.
We have a full and exciting week for y’all. Please look at the calendar above and feel free to join us at any of the meetings and events marked as OPEN on the calendar.
Hola a Todos,
Tenemos una semana completa y emocionante para todos ustedes. Por favor, mire el calendario anterior y no dude en unirse a nosotros en cualquiera de las reuniones y eventos marcada como OPEN en el calendario.
Since Matthew had us all back on our toes this hurricane season we thought it would be a good idea to talk about how mother nature affects all of us, but specially the homeless and slumlord victims in our communities.
Most of us spent the past couple of days putting up hurricane shutters, buying supplies (such as canned food, water and batteries) and even making sure our pets were safely inside the home in case we got a hard hit from hurricane Matthew. We were worried about the damage that the hurricane could cause to our homes, roads and schools and took every precaution to make sure we did everything we could to prepare. We think these is what everyone worries about during a hurricane right? Well that’s not really the case.
For those residents of Miami who live in beaten down slumlord buildings or those who may not have anywhere to live at all, the thoughts during a hurricane turn to something more basic than property damage: Survival. Those who live in these buildings who fall apart without hurricane class winds are not thinking whether their roof will cave in when the hurricane comes, simply because they know it will. Those who live in the streets are not looking at their home insurance to see what it covers, simply because they have no home to speak of, not even a rented one. These community members who are often ignored are thinking about how they are going to survive this common place event for the rest of us. They know that their only chance to do so is to get themselves into a shelter as quickly as possible before they all fill up and they are left to face mother nature, alone and without help.
While we celebrate the time off from work & school and enjoy some family time in the dark there are people right outside our homes trying to make sure this is not their last day, and while they may survive they will go back to dilapidated buildings and living on the street. These are all symptoms of the housing crisis that we currently face in Miami and one of the reasons SMASH has been working so hard in order to fix this situation. We want a Miami where everyone can watch the news of an incoming hurricane without having to face their own mortality. We want to make sure that folks are able to take refuge in their homes without them falling in on them thanks to negligent slumlords who have let the very foundations of the buildings rot away.
As always we would like to hear your thoughts on this issue so please comment here or on facebook what you think, how you can help and your inspiration to take action. We have also included a small piece by the Florida Today on the homeless and hurricane Matthew.
Hola a Todos,
Ya que Matthew nos tenía a todos de nuevo en nuestros dedos de los pies esta temporada de huracanes que pensamos que sería una buena idea hablar acerca de cómo la madre naturaleza nos afecta a todos, pero especialmente a las víctimas sin hogar y Slumlord en nuestras comunidades.
La mayoría de nosotros pasamos el último par de días la colocación de contraventanas para huracanes, la compra de materiales de construcción (tales como alimentos enlatados, agua y baterías) e incluso asegurándose de que nuestros animales domésticos eran de forma segura dentro de la casa en caso de que nos dieron un duro golpe del huracán Matthew. Estábamos preocupados por el daño que el huracán podría causar a nuestras casas, carreteras y escuelas y tomamos todas las precauciones para asegurarse de que hicimos todo lo posible para prepararse. Creemos que estos es lo que cada uno se preocupa por la derecha durante un huracán? Bueno, eso no es realmente el caso.
Para aquellos residentes de Miami que viven en edificios golpeados Slumlord o aquellos que no pueden tener un lugar para vivir en absoluto, los pensamientos durante un huracán a su vez a algo más básico que el daño a la propiedad: Supervivencia. Los que viven en estos edificios que se desmoronan y sin vientos clase huracán no están pensando si su techo cederá cuando llegue el huracán, simplemente porque sé que lo hará. Los que viven en las calles no están mirando a su seguro de casa para ver lo que cubre, simplemente porque no tienen un hogar que hablar, ni siquiera un uno alquilado. Estos miembros de la comunidad que a menudo son ignorados están pensando en cómo van a sobrevivir a este lugar del acontecimiento común para el resto de nosotros. Ellos saben que su única oportunidad de hacerlo es meterse en un refugio tan pronto como sea posible antes de que todos se llenan y se les deja hacer frente a la madre naturaleza, solo y sin ayuda.
Mientras celebramos el tiempo libre del trabajo y la escuela y disfrutar de un tiempo en familia en la oscuridad hay gente justo fuera de nuestras casas tratando de asegurarse de que esto no es su último día, y si bien pueden sobrevivir van a ir de nuevo a edificios en ruinas y la vida en la calle. Estos son todos los síntomas de la crisis de la vivienda que en la actualidad nos enfrentamos en Miami y una de las razones SMASH ha estado trabajando muy duro con el fin de corregir esta situación. Queremos un Miami, donde todo el mundo puede ver las noticias de un huracán entrante sin tener que enfrentarse a su propia mortalidad. Queremos asegurarnos de que la gente es capaz de refugiarse en sus casas sin que caigan sobre ellos gracias a slumlords negligentes que han permitido que los mismos cimientos de los edificios se pudren.
Como siempre, nos gustaría conocer tu opinión sobre este tema así que por favor comentar aquí o en facebook lo que piensa, cómo se puede ayudar y su inspiración para tomar medidas. También hemos incluido un pequeño trozo de la Florida Today sobre las personas sin hogar y el huracán Matthew.
We apologize for the slow down of our online presence but we been hard at work and are short staffed, however this work has paid off and we come to you with great news.
As of last week Struggle for Miami’s Affordable and Sustainable Housing (SMASH) has been officially recognized by the Internal Revenue Services (IRS) as a 501 (c) (3) Non-Profit! After a bit over a year of hard work by so many dedicated members and the help of many other organizations we have taken a giant step in achieving our goal of creating affordable housing in Miami for those below 30% AMI.
We would like to thank a few people; this is not an extensive list and we apologize for anyone who are not thanking directly but know you are loved and your help has been greatly appreciated;
1) Our amazing Project Lead Adrian Madriz who is the vision and heart of the organization has has put so much of himself into making this organization succeed.
2) Our Board Chair Berlinda Faye Dixon who works tirelessly every day.
3) Our amazing board and community members who put all their work into SMASH.
4) Kevin Springs and Spring Forward who has been our fiscal sponsor through this process.
5) The center for social change who has allowed us to work in their amazing facilities for most of our existance
6) Finally a big thanks to Charles Elsesser for all the amazing help putting the paperwork together
We could not have done this without our community so thank your all for your help.
Hola a Todos,
Nos disculpamos por la aucencia de nuestra presencia en línea, pero hemos estado trabajando duro y estamos cortos de personal, sin embargo, este trabajo ha valido la pena y que vendrá a usted con una gran noticia.
Desde la última semana de lucha asequible de Miami y Vivienda Sostenible (SMASH en ingles) ha sido reconocido oficialmente por el Servicio de Impuestos Internos (IRS en ingles) como una 501 (c) (3) sin fines de lucro! Después de un poco más de un año de trabajo duro por tantos miembros dedicados y la ayuda de muchas otras organizaciones que hemos dado un gran paso en la consecución de nuestro objetivo de crear viviendas asequibles en Miami para aquellos por debajo del 30% del AMI.
Nos gustaría dar las gracias a unas cuantas personas; esta no es una lista extensa y nos disculpamos por cualquier persona que no está agradeciendo directamente, pero sabe que es amado y su ayuda ha sido muy apreciada;
1) Nuestro asombroso líder de proyecto Adrian Madriz, que es la visión y el corazón de la organización se ha puesto mucho de sí mismo en la fabricación de esta organización tenga éxito.
2) Nuestra Presidenta de Junta Berlinda Faye Dixon que trabaja sin descanso todos los días.
3) Nuestros sorprendentes miembros de mesa y miembros de la comunidad que ponen todo su trabajo en SMASH.
4) Kevin Springs y Spring4ward que ha sido nuestro patrocinador fiscal a través de este proceso.
5) El center for social change que ha permitido trabajar en sus instalaciones increíbles para la mayor parte de nuestra existencia
6) Por último, un gran agradecimiento a Charles Elsesser para toda la increíble ayuda para hacer el papeleo juntos
No podríamos haber hecho esto sin nuestra comunidad así que gracias a su todos por su ayuda.
In this weeks let’s talk about it, we want to talk about an issue that is closely tied to the affordable housing crisis in Miami and to the increase of slumlord buildings. Gentrification is a topic that is too well known in Miami with Overtown and Little Havana being among the hardest hit neighborhoods. For those of you who don’t know, gentrification is when a low income area is taken over by developers of a neighboring area to expand luxury spaces. This takes over affordable housing and turn it into store fronts or extremely expensive high rises which become too expensive for the current residents. This forces folks out of their homes and the neighborhoods their families have lived in for years.
With a majority of Miami being gentrified, the reduction of low income housing has been drastic leaving many people living in slumlord apartments and even homeless. The expansion of Wynwood (a neighborhood which originally was low income until gentrified and converted to the upbeat and upscale art district). The documentary above called “Right to Wynwood” takes a good look at the causes and effects of gentrification and is eye opening to those who may not have a deep knowledge of the issue. We want to invite you to watch the documentary and leave us your thoughts and comments either here or on our facebook wall.
Hola a Todos,
En esta semana de vamos a hablar sobre ello, queremos hablar de un tema que está estrechamente ligada a la crisis de viviendas asequibles en Miami y al incremento de los edificios Slumlord. Gentrificación es un tema que está muy bien conocido en Miami con Overtown y Little Havana ser uno de los vecindarios más afectados. Para aquellos de ustedes que no saben, la gentrificación es cuando una zona de bajos ingresos es asumida por los desarrolladores de una zona vecina de ampliar los espacios de lujo. Esto se hace cargo de la vivienda asequible y convertirlo en fachadas de tiendas o edificios altos extremadamente caros que llegan a ser demasiado caro para los residentes actuales. Esto obliga a la gente de sus casas y los barrios sus familias han vivido durante años.
Con una mayoría de Miami está aburguesado, la reducción de la vivienda de interés social ha sido drástica dejando a muchas personas que viven en apartamentos Slumlord e incluso personas sin hogar. La expansión de Wynwood (un barrio que originalmente era de bajos ingresos hasta aburguesado y se convierte en el animado y elegante distrito de arte). El documental anteriormente llamado “Derecho a la Wynwood” toma un buen vistazo a las causas y efectos del aburguesamiento y es reveladora a aquellos que no pueden tener un profundo conocimiento del tema. Queremos invitarle a ver el documental y nos dejan sus pensamientos y comentarios, ya sea aquí o en nuestro muro de facebook.