Nearly one million people could be made homeless if Miami-Dade county is hit by a major hurricane, most of them among the county’s poorest residents, the Miami Herald reports. Nearly one-third of all housing structures in Miami-Dade built before 1990 are vulnerable to wind damage and mold contamination from a hurricane, assuming, of course, that the structures survive at all. Miami-Dade and Broward counties adopted a stricter High Velocity Hurricane Zone building code in 1992, the year Hurricane Andrew devastated the region, but about 70% of the county’s more than 1 million single-family homes, condos and townhouses were built before then.
The dangers of widespread housing destruction are made worse by the region’s lack of affordable housing. Barry University professor Sheila McMahon said her old apartment, with windows that didn’t close, illustrated the problem. “A friend told me ‘You’re living in Miami. If you expect to have an apartment with windows that close for less than $1,500, you’re delusional.’ But [$1,500] would have taken up half of my salary, and I have all this privilege and professional experience,” McMahon, who earned her Ph.D. at Rutgers University, told the Miami Herald. “What about single moms who have kids to take care of? … How are they surviving? And how will they manage if a hurricane hits?” (Miami Herald, Climate Signals background: Hurricanes; 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season)