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Tuskegee University is an independent and state-related institution of higher education.  Its programs serve a student body that is coeducational as well as racially, ethnically and religiously diverse.


Florida Asset Building Report

Florida Family Network, Inc.
Florida Family Network

Hurricane Wilma
Miami Beach October 24, 2005

The Lay of the Land- Florida's Racial & Ethnic Populations.................................................3
Poverty in Florida...........................................................................................................................3-6
Poverty Rates and Status by Race and Age.............................................................................3-6  
Hurricane Wilma & Katrina..........................................................................................................6-7
Organizations Involved in Asset Building for displaced Florida Residents.......................8-10
Federal Resources and Funding for Wilma & Katrina Disasters.......................................11-12
The Case for a state/Regional Coalition..................................................................................13
Continental U.S. Land falling Hurricanes 1950-2004............................................................14

Florida Asset Building

Florida Family Network (FFN) has connected with a number of diverse organizations across the state to streamline their efforts into one coalition that will bridge together gaps of services and resources to unify efforts towards one common cause..."impacting poverty" before, during and after natural devastating disasters.

The Lay of the land....


Florida's population rank 4th in the U.S. behind California, Texas and New York.  It has 67 counties and is one of the most diverse states in the United States and its racial and ethnic populations are the fastest growing segments of all the races.  The U.S. Census estimates minorities will make up nearly half of the U.S. population by the year 2020.  Currently, the diverse racial and ethnic groups consist of many cultures and sub-cultures.

The University of Florida's Bureau of Economic and Business Research projects that Florida's ethnic composition will change gradually with the rate of whites continuing to fall from 73.2% in 1990 to about 58% in 2020.  Hispanics will likely increase from 12.1% in 1990 to nearly 21% in 2020.  Asians and Native Americans will increase from 1.4 to 3%; the Blacks will continue to increase slowly aided in part by movement from other southern states and immigrants from the Caribbean going from 13.2% in 1990, to nearly 18% in 2020.   With racial and ethnic minorities expected to comprise a larger percent of Florida's population, "persistent disparities across the spectrum will follow this population."  As the following diagram illustrates, Whites will be the slowest growing group and are likely to contribute less to the total population growth in this country.  Although Whites make up 73 percent of the total population in 1990, this growth will decreased to 23 percent growth between 2000 and 2010 and 14 percent from 2010 to 2030, according to the U.S. Census Bureau national projections Florida's Population (2003) - 17,019,068.

The Lay of the land....


  # % # %
White 1,127,282 11% 22,278,378 12%
Black 757,978 32% 11,352,348 33%
Hispanic 869,096 23% 12,654,058 29%
Other NSD NSD 3,822,351 20%

Definitions: Persons in poverty are defined as those who make less than 100% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL). The federal poverty level for a family of three in the 48 contiguous states and D.C. was $14,680 in 2003 and $15,067 in 2004, $16, 000 in 2005.  Source:  Urban Institute and Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured estimates based on the Census Bureau's March 2006 and 2007 Current Population Survey (CPS: Annual Social and Economic Supplements). http://www.statehealthfacts.org.

 Even though most working families (almost 92 percent in Florida) are not in poverty, many poor families do work (over 46 percent in Florida), struggling day-to-day to earn wages to meet basic needs such as food, shelter, and health care.  Among the many factors that contribute to these conditions, lack of education and occupational skills leave working poor parents unprepared to succeed in today's economy.  Table 1 data prepared by the Population Reference Bureau from the 2000 Census files show how working families in Florida compare to working families across the 50 states.

Table 1:  Florida Working Families

1. Percent of Poor Families Engaged in Work 46.1% 19 47.2%
2. Percent of Working Families That Are In Poverty 7.9% 32 7.5%
3. Percent of Working Families With a Minority Parent That Are In Poverty 13% 26 13.1%
4. Percent of Working Families With Income Less Than 200% of Poverty 31% 35 27.8%
5. Percent of Working Families in Poverty Spending Over 1/3 of Income on Housing 77% 34 72.5%
6. Percent of Working Families in Poverty With a Parent Without HS Degree or GED 43.8% 40 43.6%
7. Percent of Working Families in Poverty With a Parent With Some Postsecondary Education 31.6%   32.4%
8. Ratio of Income Received by Most Affluent Working Families Compared to the Least Affluent 8.3 40 8.5
9. Ratio of Income Received by Middle Class Working Families Compared to of the Least Affluent 2.8 23 2.9
10. Percent of Working Poor Families Self-Employed 11. The range is 2.2% to 37.3% 7.8%   12.9%
12. Percent of Working Families in Poverty With One Parent Between 25-54 Years Old 83.5% 20 85.4%
13. Percent of Working Families in Poverty With One Parent Without Health Insurance 52.3%   46.7%
14. The range among states is 9%-68%      

Source:  Florida Chamber of Commerce Foundation, Inc. Orlando Regional Chamber of Commerce, Strengthening Florida's Workforce - Strengthening the Economy - An assessment of Conditions & Policies Encouraging Economic Self-Sufficiency in Florida.

Source:  Florida Legislature Office of Economic & Demographic Research.  "2000 Census Reports "poverty in Florida".    October 2002.  http://edr.state.fl.us/population/poverty/2000.pdf.

Poverty plays a major role in the quality of life and it becomes life threatening when disasters hit.  The low-income tend to loose the most and some times it either take a life time to bounce back or their lives sink into lower levels of poverty and this creates a cesspool of multi consequences for generations to come.

 The Lay of the land....


Hurricane Wilma was the most intense hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic basin. Wilma was the twenty-second storm (including the subtropical storm discovered in reanalysis), thirteenth hurricane, sixth major hurricane, and fourth Category 5 hurricane of the record-breaking 2005.  At least 63 deaths were reported, and damage was estimated at over $29.1 billion ($20.6 billion in the US; 2005 US dollars), Wilma was among the top 5 costliest hurricanes ever recorded in the Atlantic and the third costliest storm in U.S. Wilma caused the largest disruption of electrical service ever experienced in Florida with 98% of customers in the southern part of the peninsula losing service.  Power outages were reported in 42 Florida counties.   Total insured damages have been estimated at $6.1 billion by the Property Claims Service.  Doubling this amount to obtain the total damage gives an estimate of Wilma's damage to the U. S. around $12.2 billion. According to hurricane tracker, Gary Padgett

Surrounded by both the Atlantic & Gulf oceans, Florida has always been susceptible to major hurricane disasters and devastation, with centuries of experiences of preparation prior to the disasters and policy creation for dealing with the devastation, Florida poor and minorities are very often the most impacted and the most vulnerable for deeper and long lasting systemic change that decreases their quality of life which tends to become  a generational socioeconomic disaster for generation after generation.  As illustrated previously, Florida's growth rate and increasing poverty rate among its racial and ethnic populations paints more of a dire situation for millions when it is constantly being hit with dealing with the aftermath of hurricanes.

Organizations Involve in Asset Building for displaced Florida residents ...


FFN designed criteria for selection of agencies/individuals to begin a conversation later would lead into relationship building to coalition building.  Each agency had to have met the following: 

  • Key stakeholders whom have been working in the vast areas of "asset building" within minority communities to include counties that have been impacted by hurricane disasters, particularly Wilma and Katrina,
  • The level of financial support agencies received for their targeted populations,
  • The amount of buy - in and support from their communities,
  • The impact of the agency's financial resources and the continued engagement of community,
  • The diversity of their staff,
  • Geographical balance to include rural, urban, and counties that have high poverty rates, and,
  • If there are sustainable infrastructures in place for future work.

It remains extremely important that the racial make-up of an asset building coalition is a reflection of the racial make-up of the communities this group aims to target.  The expectation is that these individuals would not only have the sensitivity to develop and implement good policies and effective strategies, but there is a shared value system and a common ground of understanding of cultures and subcultures.  The assumption is made that this will decrease the number of bad decisions which will result in savings in time and financial resources which will ultimately impact displaced individuals and families receiving needed resources in a timelier manner.

Hurricane Asset-building strategies incorporate many different approaches and the agencies use a variety of tools to help them achieve goals of creating or building assets for low-income people.  They have tapped into local/state and federal government agencies, private philanthropy, research institutions, and building coalitions with other community-based groups who are all involved in asset building in one way or another.  The coalition building has enabled them to pull their resources together to make more of an impact with the affected communities.

Many of these agencies serve as a liaison between communities and service providers such as FEMA and Red Cross in times of major disasters.  Many of the organizations provide many services that fulfill emergency needs of individuals and families pre and post hurricanes disasters.  They often fill the void of broken and misleading promises of public officials and their local/state/federal government.  It is these situations that communities create and strengthen their trust for these agencies that are working on the grassroots/ground levels.

The following diverse agencies came together in West Palm Beach Florida.  The common thread among all of them is that they have been working in the field of social justice for a number of years providing services to low income minorities.  In addition, their commitment and passion to make a difference in the lives of the disenfranchised and low income has been unwavering and remain steady way after the storms have passed.

We need to be able to identify the points of unity and their intersection in order to be strategic about building the base and move forward in a way that is sustainable.

Purvi Shah, Florida Legal Servicies

Organizations and Agencies Participating in the Coalition Effort



Targeted Population

Asset Building Activities

Outreach Capacity

Counties Cover

Tirso Moreno

Farm workers Association of Florida

Mexican, Haitian, African American, Guatemalan & Salvadoran Communities & migrant and seasonal farm workers

Worked with Miami Legal Services and the others to file lawsuit against FEMA for denying emergency housing to undocumented immigrants; Organized 40 Latino small farmers to get disaster assistance through USDA to improve their farm operations, etc.  FWAF focus on community and labor issues, training in Leadership development, organizing and advocacy.

Directly assisted 2,000 families after hurricane Wilma; Worked with local leadership to organized 60 community meetings to assess farmers needs following disasters; distributed food and water to 4,500 community members;

13 counties throughout the Central and South Florida

Gepsie Metellus

Sant La

Haitian-American communities

Asset Building and Financial Literacy; Educational Advocacy; Information and Referral.  They also make policy recommendations.

2,000-3,000  Haitians

Miami Dade

Broward Counties

Al Pina

Florida Community Reinvestment Coalition

Minority and underserved communities

Access and opportunity for home and business ownership; community reinvestment; sustainable development; health; consumer protection; financial literacy education; organizes, educates and encourages equitable public-policies for low income and minority participation in policy-making that results in equitable policies that will improve the quality of life for all minorities

Coalition consist of over 70 minority organizations

6 counties

Linda Raffield

Franklin County Seafood Workers Association

Seafood workers of Franklin County

Economic Development and support for the oyster and fishermen and women.  oyster resource development projects

300-400 farm workers of the sea.

Franklin County  

Janet Hamer

Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta - Jacksonville Branch -Community Affairs


Promote effective community development lending, investment programs and fair lending throughout the sixth district.  Also a focus on affordable housing, economic development, asset building and preservation, disaster recovery and preparedness, connecting immigrant markets to financial services and community development capacity building

Promote community and economic development through facilitating partnerships and providing technical expertise, in the area of finance.  Provide outreach and advisory services, conferences, workshops,  roundtable meetings, speeches, and dissemination of information through the website and Partners Meeting

Focused area - Duval county - but also provide some services state-wide

Kaye Schmnitz

Real Sense Prosperity Campaign


Real Sense Prosperity Campaign consists of a community coalition of companies, agencies, government, educational, non-profit, and other organizations.  Their focus is on improving financial literacy by providing free financial classes and asset accumulation training.  Also provide IDAs.

catalyst in changed financial management behavior among Northeast Florida's lower-to-moderate-income citizens.


Lisa A. Carmona, Esq.

Florida Equal Justice Center, Inc.

Low income and disenfranchised

Provide services in residential landlord and tenant issues, property issues and other issues around financial security.

Project Leader for a collaborative of legal services agencies to address legal issues that arose from Hurricane Wilma.

13 counties

Frank Perez

Florida Equal Justice Center, Inc.


and disenfranchised

Provide legal advice and support around housing challenges for disaster victims.

Palm Beach County's long term recovery coalition; housing coordinator for Region VII- addressing housing needs of disaster victims.

13 counties

Carolyn Ford

North Florida Educational Development Center

Low income minorities

NFEDC is dedicated to reducing poverty and racial inequality by increasing opportunities for asset accumulation for minority families, and ensuring that their voices are heard in major policy debates.  They provide financial planning services, educational services and several health programs within its wellness center.

NEFEDC covers several rural counties, but its focus has been in Gadsden County.  They serve as the major partner in building affordable housing.  Currently NFEDC has build two housing communities in Gadsden County.

6 counties

Sheila Chamberlain

WE HELP Community Development

Low income

Assist individuals and families to attain decent and affordable housing.  They built Abidjan Estates, the first gated, mixed-use residential and commercial development in the Lake Region. A $62-million project.  A few of their programs are: 

The Purchase Now Affordable Housing Program

Getting Ready to Purchase Program

Home Ownership Process, The Mutual Self-Help Program, Credit Counseling, Credit Repair

Grant Writing for Collaborative Partners

Partners assist WE HELP in providing a wider scope of services resulting in an increase of individuals and families participating in their programs.  A few of their partners:  Fidelity Federal Bank & Trust, Florida Housing Finance Corporation, Florida Housing Coalition

Florida Low-Income Housing,

Palm Beach County Board of County Commissioners, Palm Beach County Housing and Community Development

Wachovia, Workforce Development Center

4 counties

Erick Kelly

Allegany Franciscan Ministries

Local foundations, community-based organizations (health focus) & service providers

focused on improving the overall health status of individuals through increasing access to health services and information.  They invest in efforts to increase the cultural competency of health care providers and in health promotion and health education with racially and ethnically diverse individuals, by striving to reduce racial and ethnic health disparities, increase access to health services and improve the overall health status of underserved populations.

They engage and seek the advice of community partners including those they seek to serve, so that our strategic objectives and grant making activities are aligned to effectively meet the needs of the local community. To date, they have awarded over 400 grants totaling more than $8,000,000 to community-based organizations in cultural competency, healthcare, community organizing, education, advocacy, and non-profit capacity building efforts. (this is in the Palm Beach Region)

Miami-Dade - Palm Beach, Martin and St. Lucie

Tampa Bay area of Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties.

Purvi Shah

Florida Legal Services - Advocacy Office

Low Income

Performs legislative advocacy for FLS priorities, works with local programs in areas of public benefits, housing, and homelessness.  It also conducts impact and class action litigation in areas of public benefits, homelessness and immigration.



Gihan Perera

Miami Workers Center

Low Income African Americans and Latinos

The Miami Workers Center is a strategy and action center that builds the collective strength of working class and poor Black and Latino communities in Miami. We achieve this by building the broadest and deepest base among our constituencies; developing the strategic and tactical leadership capacity of low-income Blacks and Latinos; shifting the public debate around issues impacting  communities;

We work to increase the power and self-determination of these communities by initiating and supporting community-led grassroots organizations that confront the critical social issues of our time: poverty, racism, and gender oppression.  Building of coalitions and alliances across Miami Dade and Broward counties to amplify their message.

3 counties

Federal Resources and Funding ...



There were a number of programs and hurricane relief resources put in place after the devastation of hurricane Wilma & Katrina.  They included:

Department of Labor - Emergency Relief Grants - Up to five-year grants are available for re-employing the workforce post-disaster.  States and local governments can apply.  Sixty-two million appropriated post-Katrina, $30.7 million spent to date.  Another $70 million available, however, only 4 other states have applied for the funding (Georgia, Arkansas, Florida, and North Carolina). The Emergency Relief Grants is an unsolicited proposal program that requires collaboration of workforce investment boards, local colleges and stakeholders.

FEMA - Community Disaster Loans - Five to ten year loans for local governments for operational funding (no capital outlay projects).  $700 million appropriated to Louisiana for disaster relief, $530 million of which has been granted and another $170 million requested.  Consequently, all funds have been requested but it was recommended that projects submit proposals in case pending projects do not come to fruition.  There is also a need to show state and local officials the existing demand for the funds.

HUD - Community Disaster Loan Program Community Development Block Grant

Program - An $11.5 billion relief package was recently appropriated, $6.2 billion for Louisiana, for operating and rebuilding efforts in affected areas for disaster relief, long-term recovery, and restoration of infrastructure in the most impacted and distressed areas related to Hurricanes, Katrina, Rita, and Wilma in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas.  These funds can be used by the states to assist a wide variety of organizations and projects.  It is expected that the Louisiana Recovery Authority will be given the authority to distribute these funds to Louisiana projects, but this is not confirmed.  These funds can be used as federal matching funds.

FEMA - Public assistance reimbursement program for states, local governments, Indian tribes and certain private non-profits for emergency or permanent work related to the disaster.  Permanent work is specific to restoring an eligible damaged facility to its pre-disaster design.  $452 million has been granted by FEMA to date for health and recovery efforts and it is estimated that an additional $634 million is needed for future health and recovery projects.

U. S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Disaster Loans - Disaster loans for non-farm businesses of any size and private, non-profit organizations are eligible for these federal disaster loans, generally at an interest rate of 4% with terms up to 30 years.  Certain private, non-profit organizations performing essential services of a governmental nature may also be eligible for Public Assistance grants from FEMA.  Homeowners and renters are also eligible applicants for disaster loans from SBA. 

United States Congress 2006 Budget Reconciliation Bill - Hurricane Relief Package   The budget reconciliation bill passed the Senate in late 2005 and is pending approval in the House of Representatives.  The House reconvenes on January 31, 2006; the budget reconciliation bill vote is set for February 1, 2006.  If approved, it would provide approximately $2 billion in relief for recovery efforts.   A large portion of this funding will go towards the Louisiana Medicaid program.

HUD Section 242 Mortgage Insurance for Hospitals - Section 242 insures the hospital's lenders against losses and enables hospitals that are not served by the private market to expand and/or renovate their facilities. Loans can be used for new construction, purchase, rehabilitation and some refinancing with a loan term of no more than 25 years.

HUD Section 232 - Insures mortgages to facilitate the construction and rehabilitation of nursing homes, intermediate care facilities and assisting living facilities.  Maximum loan amount for new projects is equal to 90% of value of improvements and equipment, and maximum loan amounts for existing facilities is equal to 85% of the value of improvements and equipment.

USDA Rural Development Loan Program - Provides loans for essential community facilities in rural incorporated areas with a population of 20,000 or less or any unincorporated area.  Loan terms can extend t o 40 years at today's rate of 4%.  The USDA also offers the Community Facility Guarantee Program, which guarantees eligible loans with mortgage lenders.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services - Health Resources and Services Administration - Office of Rural Health Policy

Rural Outreach Program - Three-year grant program for direct delivery of coordinated health care and related services in rural areas.  A non-profit or public entity that includes three or more separately owned health care providers may apply.  Affected parishes with eligible rural areas include Plaquemines, Cameron and St. Bernard.  Funding up to $150,000 year one, $125,000 year two and $100,000 for year three.

Rural Network Development Program - Three-year grant program to establish integration of activities across clinical, financial, technological and administrative aspects for rural health network members.    A non-profit or public entity that includes three or more separately owned health care providers may apply.  Affected parishes with eligible rural areas include Plaquemines, Cameron and St. Bernard.  Funding up to $180,000 year one, $180,000 year two and $180,000 for year three

Rural Network Planning Program - One-year grant program to establish initial steps toward formal rural health network development. A non-profit or public entity that includes three or more separately owned health care providers may apply.  Affected parishes with eligible rural areas include Plaquemines, Cameron and St. Bernard.  Funding from $25,000 to $85,000 available for one year.

Due to lack of time for proper preparation for this report, I am unable to clearly explain to what extent these resources were made accessible to organizations working on the ground level, or how successful were they in tapping into these services for their communities.  These organizations are seen as the intermediaries who will then ensure that individuals receive the serve.  I am not sure of the obstacles and the challenges of direct services and that it was seen as timely.  It is my sense from several of the organizations however, that they had just as many challenges, yet a little more success in accessing the information/resources as individuals & communities.

The Case for a State/Regional Coalition

The importance of financial assets in addition to income is a critical factor in achieving economic self-sufficiency.  The ideal focus of this component in a proposed Florida and Regional coalition should be on asset facilitation (financial literacy and access) asset incentives (EITC, IDAs, CSAs, retirement plans), asset protection and removal of barriers (i.e. health care).  The need for a Florida/Regional coalition would be of several levels: 

  • 1. to act as the source in which funds are delivered, so they can provide an immediate and direct service to individuals and families on the local level; 2
  • 2. This body would decrease barriers and create and implement strategies that would have direct impact due to their understanding of the needs and the cultures of their population, this could foster financial independence and asset building
  • 3. This body would also assist in strengthening polices towards working families with a primary focus on lifelong education and training, tax policies impacting income, creating financial security & investments, and finally creating more opportunities for connecting individuals and families to economic development opportunities, assist in creating more affordable housing, home ownership and the ability to pay high utility bills.
  • 4. This body could be effective in uniting individuals and community development polices to create opportunities and assets that help families and communities to thrive. It would focus on four policy goals in helping families,
  • a. saving and investing in their own future
  • b. building financial security through ownership of assets,
  • c. leveraging their limited resources and d) providing opportunities and education for them to value, participate in and complete higher education and skill training.
  • 5. This body could be an advocate for increasing prosperity and opportunities that promote collaborative approaches to asset building, creating united voices and empower action.
  • 6. Because this body will be diverse in cultures, geographic, close to the people affected by disasters, their high level of experiences and skill sets, they could provide financial hope, opportunities and choice to low income families and individuals. This creates four strategic goals:
  • a. Create range of prosperity products (inventory and plan)
  • b. Develop and promote public and lending policy for asset building (research & brief legislation)
  • c. Market savings, smart borrowing and benefits (EITC, anti-predatory lending)
  • d. Expand financial literature (K-12, and with special populations)


It is with confidence that there is no doubt that a state and regional coalition whose framework is solid and strong in experiences, diversity and a deep understanding of the needs of their communities will facilitate a more cohesive system of impacting poverty in communities across the region.  With these ingredients services during pre and post hurricane disasters would be immediate, effective and sustaining.  It will take a substantial amount of funding from federal, state and private foundations to support this initiative.  It will also take a commitment to those who are at the table, a commitment that could ride the waves of obstacles and major challenges that coalitions tend to have.  There is no doubt that with a careful selection of the right individuals with a wide range of social capital, asset, education, experiences and being connected to the communities, that this endeavor could not only save the government millions of dollars, but can begin to be the base that can put people in a better financial position to live a decent and prosperous life.