April 3, 2020
Mayor Carlos Gimenez
111 NW 1st Street, 29th Floor, Miami, FL 33128
Dear Mayor Gimenez:
The national unemployment numbers released yesterday now show over 10 million Americans applying for unemployment assistance around the country; this reaffirms that residents are facing challenging economic times. With yesterday’s announcement by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity reversing its position on accepting paper applications for unemployment assistance, we must deploy all available resources to triage the crisis and help local residents apply for all available assistance to weather the financial hardships many face. I am grateful that your administration is partnering with CareerSource to provide Miami-Dade residents greater access to file for reemployment benefits. You expressed your willingness to consider use of county libraries as well to serve as regional hubs.
This is an important step forward to ease the deep frustrations many have with the failed CONNECT system. It was deeply alarming to read in today’s Politico story that the system was in fact designed to suppress individuals from accessing benefits. In fact, the story recounts how “it was about making it harder for people to get benefits.” So your actions to help overcome what is an already burdensome, anti-consumer platform are welcome. I would also encourage you to make available envelopes and stamps at each location, with the information on where the application is to be mailed, for those who prefer to process the applications by mail. This will give residents a clear path to obtain vital benefits as they face economic uncertainty and anxiety.
I would also suggest we arm the staff members who will be onsite to have available all additional benefits, federal, state and local, that residents can tap into to bridge these uncertain times. For example, information on applying for Medicaid, SNAP and other social services will ensure that those who need the services most at this time can avail themselves of it. These centers will be key in providing a one-stop resource for our residents and can be a model for other communities to follow.
I hope these added services could be swiftly implemented as I know you and our County Departments are working diligently to address the growing challenges our residents face as we battle both health and economic crises.
Thank you for your leadership.
Daniella Levine Cava
Miami-Dade County Commissioner, District 8
CC: Ray Baker, Director of Miami-Dade County Public Library System Rick Beasley, Career Source South Florida
Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners