Climate gentrification: Is sea rise turning Miami high ground into a hot commodity?

Miami is the first city to study the impacts of climate gentrification, a shift in consumer preferences for higher ground as climate change sends sea levels rising that displaces poor residents of color in Miami’s few high elevation communities.

When Paulette Richards answered the door of her Liberty City home a year ago, she found two men standing there.

“Someone filed foreclosure on your property today and we’re here to see if you’re interested in selling,” they told her.

“I was blown away,” said the 58-year-old great grandma, who’d been struggling to pay her mortgage after an uninsured bout with cancer left her deep in medical debt. “They knew before I did.”

That door knock wasn’t the start — or the end — of the campaign to buy the four-bedroom bungalow Richards had lived in since just before Thanksgiving in 2001. Her family had to take the house phone off the hook after repeated calls from prospective buyers. She said she gets about five letters a day from people offering to buy her home; one even included a Google Maps picture of the house.

Like Richards, many inner city Miami residents of say they are feeling the pressure to abandon their community to developers in the race to get rich in Miami’s historically black and minority neighborhoods, some of the last cheap land left in the booming coastal city.

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