Miami Forever Bond - City of Miami, Florida

In 2017, the City of Miami, Florida passed the $400 million “Miami Forever Bond” authorizing the City government to borrow money through a general obligation bond to address sea-level rise and Miami’s affordable housing crisis. A 3 percent property tax will be used to repay the debt. Miami is one of the most vulnerable cities in the U.S. to sea level rise - facing increasing and compounding climate change impacts from flooding, storm surge, and saltwater intrusion into the Miami’s drinking water. The City estimates that flooding has increased by 400% over the past five years. Furthermore, Miami has also been subject to growing social inequities and a lack of affordable housing, which exacerbates climate risks to low-income and other marginalized communities. The bond was designed to provide the funding the City needs to enhance resilience to these climate risks as well as other challenges.

This resource was featured in the October 18, 2018, ASAP Newsletter.

Zelalem Adefris, Resilience Director at Catalyst Miami, described Catalyst Miami's work to ensure that the Miami Forever Bond proceeds support equitable adaptation initiatives in frontline communities. More information can be found in a blog contributed by Catalyst Miami on the ASAP website.

The Bond proceeds including funding of the following projects: 

  • $192 million for sea level rise adaptation and flood prevention, stormwater pumps and sea walls
  • $100 million for affordable housing
  • $78 million for parks and cultural facilities
  • $23 million to improve and raise roads to prevent flooding
  • $7 million for public safety improvements

To build support for the Bond initiative, the First Street Foundation invested $350,000 to educate Miami’s voters about sea level rise. The Bond passed with 55% of the vote. In addition, the Miami Climate Alliance and Catalyst Miami are working to ensure that bond proceeds are supporting equitable climate adaptation and underserved communities.

The Alliance and Catalyst Miami are also helping to highlight the need to ensure that Bond proceeds benefit those that are on the frontlines of climate impacts. To build support for equitable allocations of the Bond proceeds, these groups have pointed to the disproportionate impacts of Hurricane Andrew in 1992 where lower-income neighborhoods, like Florida City, that were not able to bounce back as quickly as more well-off areas, like Downtown Miami. These groups have also identified the disparities in wealth and income across Miami communities noting that “60 percent of Miami-Dade County households are considered financially unstable; one in five live in poverty; and poverty is most prevalent among African-American and Hispanic communities, which together make up 85 percent of Miami-Dade’s population.”

The Miami Climate Alliance and Catalyst Miami organized a series of town halls to convene residents who developed a set of equity criteria for applying to Bond-funded projects including:

  • Full transparency and accountability with regards to the stormwater infrastructure project selection and approval process
  • Seats on the Citizen’s Oversight board representing an equity perspective that will elevate the voices of vulnerable populations
  • Community-driven project identification and selection of affordable housing projects with the intention that these projects do not increase gentrification of communities
  • Funding for parks focusing on uplifting and supporting marginalized communities, especially communities of color”

The City Commission approved the Miami Climate Alliance’s requirements for appointing 
the Citizens’ Oversight Board members. Although the criteria are recommended, the Miami Climate Alliance plans to work to make sure those criteria are used by the Board to make recommendations on bond spending to the City Commission. The Alliance also helped to inform the selection of Board appointees, and to ensure that the Board reflects the City’s racial, gender and age diversity, and includes members with an equity perspective, who can elevate the voices of vulnerable populations.


Publication Date: November 7, 2017

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