National Hispanic Heritage Month

Hispanic Heritage Month

On Sept. 17, 1968, President Lyndon Baines Johnson, who had taught in a Hispanic school in the South Texas town of Cotulla, issued Proclamation 3869 establishing National Hispanic Heritage Week. He proclaimed: “It is with special pride that I call the attention of my fellow citizens to the great contributions to our national heritage made by our people of Hispanic descent — not only in the fields of culture, business and science, but also through their valor in battle.”  A half century later, Johnson could not have foreseen the profound changes that Hispanics and Latinos would bring to this Country nor to the demographic and social fabric of our nation.


The week in September was chosen because five of our “Central American neighbors celebrate their Independence Day on the 15th of September and the Republic of Mexico on the 16th.”  Johnson was referring to Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua, countries that celebrate nearly 200 years of independence from Spain.   In 1989 Congress expanded the Week to a month with Sept. 15 to Oct. 16, as Hispanic Heritage Month.  NHSSF salutes our national Hispanic Heritage Month.


Kimberly T. Henderson

President and CEO, and

alumnus LBJ School of Public Affairs

Neighborhood Housing Services of South Florida logo

Public Land for Public Good

Statement of Values

The cost and availability of land is frequently identified as a barrier to affordable housing and community development. Meanwhile, housing costs in Miami-Dade County continue to increase, making it unaffordable for close to half of its residents. Small businesses, non-profits, as well as community amenities and services are also affected by the increasing cost of living and diminishing disposable income for the majority of Miami-Dade County residents. Communities often feel as if they are reacting to new development and displacement pressures on a case-by-case basis. This is particularly of concern in low-income and communities of color, which have long been shut out of opportunities for meaningful, community-led economic development. A recent study entitled, “The Color of Wealth in Miami,” points out that “racial wealth disparities are enormous and persistent, rooted from the country’s inception with profound intergenerational effects.” The Ohio State University, Duke University, and the Insight Center for Community Economic Development, The Color of Wealth in Miami (February 2019). This study underscores the importance of community investment and identifying a long-term strategy for the use of publicly-owned vacant or underused land for the benefit of the community.

The recent unveiling of LAND: The Land Access for Neighborhood Development, a tool developed by the University of Miami’s Office of Civic and Community Engagement, demonstrated that there is approximately 500 million square feet of publicly-owned vacant or underused land scattered throughout Miami-Dade County. LAND: Land Access for Neighborhood Development, The LAND tool presents a unique opportunity for entities to coordinate public resourcesfor the benefit of the community. This tool has become available as our communities face an unprecedented and growing threat of displacement from various fronts. Residents feel the burden of unaffordability ever more acutely when Opportunity Zones are ushering in new incentives for speculation, sea level rise is shifting the real estate market, and the demographics of cultural neighborhoods are changing drastically. In the face of these pressures, the disposition of publicly-owned land should be guided by the following core values:


  • Public land should be used, in part, to address the affordability crisis. It should be targeted to those most cost-burdened, from extremely low income to moderate income households. (Those living at or below 30% AMI up to 80% AMI. Miami-Dade County Public Housing and Community Development:Income Limits,;Statistical Atlas data based on 2010 US Census & 2015-16 American Community Survey.)
  • Public land should be used to minimize displacement and ensure residents have the right to remain, if they so choose, in the communities they built. This includes incentivizing models that ensure permanent and long-term affordability, such as Community Land Trusts and other equitable development strategies.
  • Public land use should balance the need for increased density and the preservation of unique characteristics of our neighborhoods.
  • Public land use should aid in the research and development of techniques and technologies that make construction more affordable.

Resiliency & Strategic Locations:

  • Public land use must take into account rising seas and the urgent need to build a more climate-resilient county. The New York Times, Detailed Maps Show How Neighborhoods Shape Children for Life, October 1, 2018. The resiliency and environmental sustainability of new or rehabilitated structures should be a core concern.
  • Use of public land for green space and flood mitigation, public gardens, and parks should be prioritized and considered in conjunction with community development plans.
  • Land disposition and use should prevent climate gentrification, the displacement of small businesses and low-income residents from high-ground neighborhoods to less climate-resilient areas. Zoning rules and other local laws should be crafted to enable this objective.
  • Disposition should encourage transit-oriented development by coordinating resources between the County and nearby municipalities, by facilitating the increase in density, (where appropriate) and by developing at or near areas of opportunity to leverage access to transit, jobs, green space, schools, grocery stores, pharmacies, and health clinics.

Community Engagement:

  • Community stakeholders, including home-owners, renters, and small business owners, must be at the table.
  • Implement an authentic community education process so that communities can determine what they want in their backyards and craft a community-informed plan for land use with pilot/implementation steps;
  • Community benefit policies must be incorporated into disposition processes to ensure equity and that all parts of our community can thrive.

Systemic Interventions:

  • Engage in inter-governmental and inter-institutional collaboration for assemblage of land that benefits low-income communities and communities of color.
  • Provide a transparent, equitable and accountable process for the conveyance of land, including set-asides of certain parcels for non-profit and mission-aligned developers whose projects are community-led and meet the needs of the community.
  • Improve the permitting process to lower the cost of construction and speed up development timelines.
  • Invest in community control, economic sustainability, ownership and generational wealth for low-income communities and communities of color.

In order to support these values, we urge the prioritization of legislation focused on equitable development, environmental justice and a systematic restorative rights framework. We ask for more consistent and strategic public land disposition processes, as outlined above, which we believe will better serve all our communities while reducing vacancy and blight, and adding to our tax rolls.


Sign the Statement of Values Here


Who has signed so far?

Neighborhood Housing Services of South Florida

Embracing World Class Art to Change Communities

Miami Beach, Florida:  Neighborhood Housing Services of South Florida (NHSSF) announces its 40th anniversary celebration “Celebrating the Past/Embracing the Vision” with international artist and designer Jeroen Koolhaas.


What:        Celebrating 40 years of affordable housing and community development services to

South Florida.


When:        Thursday, March 21, 2019; 6:30PM-9:30PM


Where:       The Bass Museum, 2100 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach, valet parking available


Who:          Jeroen Koolhaas, Marietta Rodrigues, President and CEO of NeighborWorks

America; the Honorable Daryl Jones, Board Chairman and former Florida Senator


The keynote presenter, Jeroen Koolhaas, Dutch artist and designer, for over a decade has contributed to the resilience of marginalized communities through creating art, designing, teaching young and old to paint, and employing local community members, to beautify neighbors. He builds trust and community ownership of these projects through consultation and involving the people in telling their stories through highly visible images and colors designed for the buildings and streets in their neighborhoods.  These are most often multi-year projects requiring co-founders of to reside in these communities intermittently for several years, returning to update the artwork, to deepen the relationships established during the project and its contribution to community sustainability.  Favela Painting’s work has included creating art in Rio de Janeiro, Port au Prince, Curacao, Miami and North Philadelphia.


Architecture, patterns, textures, color and music are integral to his work. Hip Hop and jazz music have inspired and informed his work. Koolhaas has delivered Ted Talks on his work with communities and has been commissioned to create designs and illustrations for Prada and The New Yorker magazine.