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Skyrocketing rents; stutter awareness; Richard Blanco, Miami-Dade’s first poet laureate

Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP
Richard Blanco was the first Latin and openly gay poet to read at a presidential inauguration when he read at President Obama’s second inauguration in 2013.

Rent continues to skyrocket. How long will that last? Also, it’s National Stuttering Awareness Week, and we’re talking with the Miami Speech Institute. Plus, Richard Blanco shares with us how South Florida has impacted his poetry.

On this Monday, May 9, edition of Sundial:

Rent increases

Miami has become the least affordable housing market in the country, even surpassing New York City. The average rent in South Florida’s tri-county area rose over 50% in the past year.

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Residents are dealing with the reality of being priced out of their homes as landlords increase monthly rent. If more Floridians relocate to other, more affordable states, then industries like hospitality and tourism could see a loss of workers.

Dr. Ned Murray is the associate director of the Jorge M. Pérez Metropolitan Center at Florida International University. He said different factors have contributed to this housing crisis, including low inventory and the pandemic.

“What we’ve seen over the last two years is not only unprecedented, but it really is an exaggeration of anything that you could see in the housing market,” Murray said.

The disparity between affordable housing and luxury living has been an issue in Florida’s diverse housing market for years. The recent rent increases have widened that gap. Murray mentioned that as an urban planner, he understands the need for a spectrum of housing choices and opportunities.

“Florida’s future economy is at stake here,” Murray said. “It’s something that elected leaders, in particular, need to provide the leadership on [affordable housing] in a way that they have not in the past.”

Skyrocketing rents
The pandemic's financial pressures cause many Americans to struggle with rent. Demonstrators march in the Old Town neighborhood of Chicago this June to demand a lift on the Illinois rent control ban and a cancellation of rent and mortgage payments.

Stutter awareness

Stuttering affects about 3 million people in the United States. President Joe Biden has been outspoken about his experiences with stuttering. Charles Darwin, Ed Sheeran, and Shaquille O’Neal have also shared stories about having a stutter. Other notable stutterers include Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley.

In honor of National Stuttering Awareness Week, Patty Ruiz, executive director of the Miami Speech Institute, joined the show to discuss stuttering misconceptions. As a licensed and certified bilingual Speech-Language Pathologist, Ruiz wants to educate people on stuttering because it’s a speech disorder that many people don’t know about.

“It’s a really big deal, and there’s a lot of kids and adults that are isolated at home, not being able to communicate,” Ruiz said.

She mentioned there are three different forms of stuttering: developmental, psychogenic, and neurogenic. Ruiz added that a person’s environment, hereditary traits, and temperament can play a role in developing a stutter.

Children and adults who stutter face stigmas and challenges that are often misunderstood. Many of Ruiz’s patients have told her they feel isolated, and their intelligence is questioned just because they stutter. Some of her patients have said they feel their stutter has caused potential employers to not consider them for jobs.

“It’s a stereotype that if you stutter you’re not intelligent, if you stutter you’re nervous, if you stutter you don’t know what you’re saying, and all those things are myths that should be debunked because that is completely not true,” Ruiz said. “Successful people do stutter. It has nothing to do with your intelligence.”

National Stuttering Awareness week

Richard Blanco, Miami-Dade’s first poet laureate 

Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava announced last month that Richard Blanco is the county’s first poet laureate.

Blanco was the first Latin and openly gay poet to read at a presidential inauguration when he read at President Obama’s second inauguration in 2013. He’s currently an associate professor of English at Florida International University.

We recently spoke with Blanco about what it means to receive this honor.

“To be celebrated by the city, the county, this whole area, that sort of is what made me a poet,” Blanco said. “So much of my work involves [Miami’s] landscape, those cultural, human and physical landscapes.”

As a poet laureate, Blanco has the opportunity to help Miami’s future generations of poets. Blanco says he was an immigrant, so access to the arts was limited when he was growing up. He has a few ideas to introduce the arts, especially poetry, to young students.

“I want to perhaps team with obviously such great organizations [like] the Miami Book Fair to maybe do something with schools that are underserved in the arts,” Blanco said. “And of course, in particular poetry, as a way of giving back, as a way of making sure that kids have that experience with poetry arts at an earlier age.”

Richard Blanco, Miami-Dade’s first poet laureate

Amber Amortegui is a senior studying journalism at Palm Beach Atlantic University. Born and raised in Davie, Fla., Amber is a native South Floridian who embraces one of America’s most diverse regions.
Leslie Ovalle Atkinson is the former lead producer behind Sundial. As a multimedia producer, she also worked on visual and digital storytelling.