Where modern hospitality meets historical culture

MIAMI’S DUNNS-JOSEPHINE HOTEL IN HISTORIC OVERTOWN SUPPORTS THE COMMUNITY

June 1, 2020

MIAMI’S DUNNS-JOSEPHINE HOTEL IN HISTORIC OVERTOWN SUPPORTS THE COMMUNITY BY HOUSING THE HOMESLESS DURING THE PANDEMIC

When the need for sheltering the homeless during the pandemic became an emergency, the Dunns-Josephine Hotel opened their doors and welcomed them with open arms.

“Kristin Kitchen, the owner, stepped forward,” said Ronald L. Book Esq., Chairman of the Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust, “agreeing to take homeless individuals off the streets during this very difficult time of the pandemic.

Kristin, your entire staff, your partners –

Thank you for being a humanitarian.

Thank you for stepping up and being nothing short of a hero to me.”

“Overtown is changing…it’s makeup of people is changing,” says Dunns-Josephine hotelier and historian Kristin Kitchen.

As new businesses, we have to make decisions when we come into communities about how we view people.  It’s about humanness and respect. The community from day 1 embraced us."

Most who live on the streets knocked on the door and told me they were proud of me.

‘You really brought your best to us … this is what we need … our story, our history.’

When the pandemic came there was no hesitation. Community tourism is a part of our brand mission … to offer our best in good times and bad.”

To learn more about the Dunns-Josephine Hotel and to book your stay, visit

Dunns-Josephine

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If a person is living in the area around the Overtown Metro-Rail station, on average they’ll die more than ten years before a person living around the Brickell Metro-rail station. It’s a short train ride and it takes a decade off people’s lives.

 

It’s a short train ride and it takes a decade off people’s lives.

Jorge Damian de la Paz, a researcher at the University of Miami, pointed it out to NBC 6. We met him at the Brickell station to take the ride.

“A child born in this zip code can expect to live ten years longer than a child born in Overtown,” Damian de la Paz said.

Damian de la Paz used data from policy-map: a collection of information from many, many sources, including census tracks. He then data-mapped it to the Metro-rail stops.

“The median income for this census track is $80,000. Most people have health insurance and comparative lower levels of social vulnerability,” Damien de la Paz said.

Someone living in Brickell can expect to live to be 81 years old, he says. Someone living in Overtown can expect to live to be 71, in some parts of Overtown, to be 66.

Damian de la Paz says three things impact the disparity: access to healthcare, housing, and income. People in Brickell are more likely to have health insurance, to have stable housing environments, and money to deal with problems life throws at them.

Much of the disparity is a symptom of decisions people made in the past. Much of those decisions were based on race.

A huge impact came from leaders in the 1950s deciding to build Interstate 95 right through Overtown. This happened when there were policies keeping many Black Miamians out of other nearby neighborhoods. Many medical clinics, affordable houses, and businesses left or were demolished. Many didn’t come back.

It “was the historic hub of Black Miami,” Damian de la Paz said.

If history played out differently, Miami might not have the current health disparities.

“Miami is a relatively young city. It was incorporated in 1896 and much of its construction is from the 20th century. That means Miami grew up alongside the expansion of the federal government, Jim Crow segregation, urban renewal, highway expansion, and suburbanization,” said Damien de la Paz, “These policies, processes and trends had massive implications for local quality of life, the built environment, and health outcomes.”

“When racism is built in from the beginning for people to be disadvantaged through limited access to healthcare, limited access to equitable housing, and education…Then, yes it makes it very challenging to have healthy outcomes for people that are living there,” Shedia Nelson, the programs director for the non-profit Urgent Inc.

Urgent Inc is based in Overtown, dedicated to building up the area. Out of the three areas Damian de la Paz mentioned – healthcare, housing, and income – Urgent Inc is focusing on income with after school and summer camps matching students with mentors, business development plans and arts programs.

“That’s where you learn the industry standard of what it means to be a successful entrepreneur,” said Nelson, “The kids do everything. It’s important for them to know the real skills. The real work life skills.”

What’s needed, according to Nelson, is more people and resources dedicated to Overtown for Overtown.

“Creating an opportunity for them to say wow, I could come back and stay in Overtown and give back and help build up this beautiful community,” said Nelson.

That’s in contrast to people using people and real estate in Overtown to make money in and for other areas of town, according to Nelson.

Damian de la Paz says the current difference in life expectancy can get better.

“What is striking here is that these are things that could change,” he says, “If life expectancy is ten years higher in one area vs. another, it shows you that it’s achievable.”