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Key takeaways from Miami-Dade Mayor's 'State of the County' speech

Daniella Levine Cava state of county.jpg
Miami-Dade County
Mayor Daniella Levine Cava at her State of the County address on Jan. 25, 2023 in Tropical Park.

Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava unveiled her plans for 2023 on Wednesday night in her “State of the County” speech, focusing her goals on curbing gun violence, improving public transportation, boosting the affordable housing supply and creating a $9 million fund to get the private sector to help solve pressing community issues.

Levine Cava delivered her State of the County speech at Tropical Park, taking note that the COVID-19 pandemic still looms over one of nation's biggest counties.

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“These last two years, we’ve faced unforeseen challenges with relentless strength, leaning on what unites us rather than what divides us,” she said. “Last year, Miami-Dade emerged from the pandemic and entered a stage of unprecedented growth.”

Levine Cava is Miami-Dade's first woman mayor and first Jewish mayor. She's the first Democrat elected to head the county since 2004. Her term ends in 2024.

Here are four takeaways from her speech:

“Miami-Dade Innovation Authority” fund: $9 million

Levine Cava announced $9 million in funding for companies in the private sector that work on climate change, housing and health,and have proposals for projects that would “benefit the public.”

"I am thrilled to announce the Miami-Dade Innovation Authority. The Innovation Authority is a nonprofit established with seed funding of $3 million each from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Citadel founder and CEO Ken Griffin, and MiamiDade County.

“The Authority will provide grants to companies working to solve pressing challenges in climate, health, housing, transit, and more,” she said. “Companies will be invited to pilot new technologies with the County – fast-tracking ideas to key problems our community faces.”

The Innovation Authority is a nonprofit established with seed funding of $3 million each from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Citadel founder and CEO Ken Griffin, and MiamiDade County.

Curbing gun violence

Levine Cava touted gun violence programs to put more police officers on patrol and take weapons away. The county has seen a drop in homicides following a rise in gun-related deaths in 2021.

"We continue to invest in Operation Community Shield — taking more than 2,500 guns off our streets. We've increased protection in the communities most affected by gun violence. We’ve invested in new police capabilities.

“Our groundbreaking Peace and Prosperity Plan, led by Commissioner Keon Hardemon, now in its third year, is a long term investment in prevention, intervention and re-entry — creating opportunities particularly for at-risk young people."

Improving public transportation

Miami-Dade County has several public transit options, including Metrorail and Metromover train systems, along with buses. But some bus stops remain hard to reach in certain portions of the county, and WLRN has reported on the challenges of recruiting more bus operators.

In her speech, Levine Cava brought up improvements underway.

"From Aventura to Homestead, from Doral to South Beach, good public transit meets people where they are. We are fastforwarding our work to build key transit corridors that will better connect us and take more cars off the road. This year, we reimagined plans to build Baylink from Miami to Miami Beach.

“And working together with County Commission Chairman Oliver Gilbert, we are accelerating our timeline to build the Metrorail North Corridor all the way to County line road, with neighborhood stops along the way, making good on a 30-year promise."

Alleviating the affordable housing crisis

Rent in South Florida, especially in Miami-Dade County, has skyrocketed, making this area one of the least affordable to live in the country. In August, the county announced its HOMES Plan to invest in affordable housing. Earlier this year, the county also adopted its Tenant's Bill of Rights, which requires a 60-day notice before more than 5% rent increases or protects tenants against retaliation by landlords, among other points.

"We know that Miami-Dade is at the epicenter of a national affordability crisis – which is why we are also at the forefront of housing solutions.

“In April, I launched the Building Blocks plan to strengthen protections and increase the supply of workforce and affordable housing.

“We are working directly with private builders to accelerate new development over the next three years.

“We passed a budget that includes more than half a billion dollars in solutions to expand housing that people can afford — with nearly 32,000 housing units in the pipeline — and relief for those who are struggling.
“The ERAP (Emergency Rental Assistance Program) has helped 22,000 families stay in their homes."

Read Mayor Levine Cava’s speech in full below.

Verónica Zaragovia was born in Cali, Colombia, and grew up in South Florida. She’s been a lifelong WLRN listener and is proud to cover health care, as well as Surfside and Miami Beach politics for the station.