Valencia Gunder

Founder, Make the Homeless Smile

Activist and organizer Valencia Gunder believes that homelessness is not only poverty, but also exclusion from the life of the community. Gunder is a Miami native of Bahamian decent, and grew up in Liberty City.

Gunder is the founder of Make the Homeless Smile, a nonprofit offering meals, showers, haircuts, and other basic but often unavailable services to homeless individuals in Miami and Atlanta. Gunder also works with organizations such as the New Florida Majority in pursuit of a better life for South Floridians.

In 2017, Gunder made headlines in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, when the Community Emergency Operation Center (CEOC), a relief service she organized during the leadup to the storm, was able to deliver supplies and support to 18 low-income communities before any other organization reached them.

Podcast Guest Appearances

A Tale of Two Cities: Miami and Detroit

Climate change is upending Miami’s real estate markets, turning one of its poorest neighborhoods into some of the most desirable real estate around. It’s a phenomenon known as “climate gentrification,” a term coined by urban studies professor Jesse Keenan.

In a 2018 paper, Keenan writes that while gentrification is most often driven by supply – that is, a surplus of devalued property that invites development and transformation – climate gentrification is the opposite.