Travel Log: Miami
Sister Mary Howard Johnstone, OP
November 1, 2018
Early this morning, on this feast of all Saints, we gathered near the water for our contemplative prayer. As always, the prayer time together fueled our journey for the day.
Along the road to Mar-a-Lago we have heard over and over again the concerns for adequate, affordable housing. The Elderly Housing Development and Operations Corporation responds to those concerns as a developer and manager of affordable and safe housing for seniors across our country. The EHDOC supports federal policies that advocate for benefits and the highest quality of life for seniors.
We had the privilege to visit one of the EHDOC sites in Miami, Florida where we learned from Steve Protulis, President and CEO, and Gwendolyn Mazyck, manager, that no money is availlable for seniors with limited income. The EHDOC has 8 buildings in Florida, housing and providing services for 900- 1,000 seniors. Applications for subsidized housing were recently opened up and two thousand people lined the street beginning at 5:00 a.m. This was just for applications as there were no vacancies at the time. The average wait for affordable subsidized housing for seniors is currently 4-8 years. The tax law with its increase of debt threatens this life-giving program with a loss of much needed funds.
The highlight of our visit was the time spent with the residents who greatly appreciated the housing opportunity and services provided. We were treated to a Latin lunch. It was not unusual to be sharing a table with a person originally from Peru, one from Argentina, one from Cuba, and another from El Salvador. The group translations all included Spanish, English and Russian.
The EHDOC site in Miami is truly mission driven with passionate people providing “Housing with a Heart.”
We then participated in a Lobby visit and rally at the office of Carlos
Curbelo, U.S. Representative for Florida’s 26th Congressional District. A few of the Nuns on the Bus joined three of Curbelo’s District constituents for a lobby visit – Daniel Gibson from Allegheny Franciscan Ministries, France Francois, and Lorenzo Canizares. We inquired why Representative Curbelo’s rhetoric of care for the people and their needs did not match his voting record. He had voted yes to the Tax Law even though it shifts money to those at the top of the economic ladder and threatens programs vital to his people. His rather defensive DC aide (arriving 20 minutes late) defended Curbelo’s vote with statistics highly questioned by those present. Sister Simone was prepared with data affirming the need for our Tax Justice Truth Tour.
After the lobby visit, an enthusiastic group gathered for a rally. All of the speakers urged those present to hold their elected officials accountable and to take their values to the ballot box next Tuesday.
The day gifted us with personal, grassroots stories highlighting the need for “reasonable revenue for responsible programs.”