By: Diana Bello Aristizabal
The population growth rate in Doral has been increasing over the years because while in 2010 it had 45,700 inhabitants, in 2020, that figure had already increased to 75,000, and today 80,000 people live in this city and is projected to end the year with 84,000. Given this scenario, it has become a priority to provide tools to newcomers so that they can adequately adapt to our community.
With this goal in mind, Christi Fraga, City of Doral Mayor, proposed creating an information and resource center for Doral residents through a pilot program in the last council meeting that took place on February 8. This item was approved by its members, which represents an opportunity for all of us to be more and better informed.
“Information is power. Well-informed residents are productive and good members of our community because they can excel and prosper,” explains Fraga about this initiative, which is expected to fight against the large amount of misinformation that circulates.
“Rest assured that in this center, residents will have access to factual and verifiable information,” adds Rafael Pineyro, Vice Mayor of the city and one of the promoters of this pilot program.
As Pineyro explains, when the number of inhabitants increases, the demand for services and information that new residents need to make any type of procedure and start their lives in this community on the right foot also increases, from how to open a new business or register a child in school to how to access health services, get vaccinated or receive legal assistance.
The purpose of this program is to bring the information directly to residents so that they don’t get lost in a system that in most cases, they don’t know too well. “I have noticed that what many lack is knowledge, and there are a lot of resources offered by non-profit organizations and agencies that people never use. This is a missed opportunity,” emphasizes Fraga.
Some organizations benefit parents who have children with special needs, while others focus on helping women who have experienced domestic abuse or families in need of food assistance, and certain institutions support small business owners, just to name a few examples.
Taking the above into account, what is intended is that people can clarify all their questions and have access to all the information they require in a single place, which in this case will be the City Hall building, located in downtown.
“Perhaps we won’t be able to fix a specific problem that a resident has, but we will tell them where to go or who to talk to and guide them in each step they need to take,” explains Fraga.
But this program would not only serve to meet individual needs, as it can help Doral residents as a group when an emergency or a situation arises that affects an important part of the population in one way or another.
“Let’s analyze what happened when a snake was loose in Doral. People started calling us and we didn’t offer them a solution. We knew we couldn’t catch the animal but we could have given them the contact information of the entity that could. Instead, residents called the police and went to social media without success,” the Mayor explains.
Although preventing situations like the aforementioned from happening again is not the exclusive responsibility of the City of Doral, the entity does hold a commitment to the resident to provide better customer service and make them feel welcome in this community.
This is especially important in the case of new immigrants who come from countries like Colombia, Cuba, Brazil or Venezuela and are unaware of how the US system works.
“The program will also be aimed at those who come from California, New York or any other state because they may have the same questions as those who come from Latin America,” clarifies Rafael Pineyro, who adds that it is even a useful tool for old residents who need to carry out a new procedure.
What can residents expect?
According to the promoters of this initiative, this program could become a reality in a period of no more than 60 days from the day it was approved by the Doral council.
“This project is already moving and we just need to nail down a few details to get it started. My long-term goal is for us to be able to monitor how many calls we receive, how many people come to the center in person and what are the most recurring matters they ask for to provide a better service,” states Fraga.
“What we are doing is developing the structure of the information service that would be enabled on the second floor of City Hall but without incurring in additional expenses, as this is very important for the city,” adds Rafael.
In this space, trained staff with enough knowledge to answer the residents concerns would provide them with personalized attention during office hours, that is, from 8:30 in the morning to 5:00 in the afternoon from Monday to Friday.
“My goal is to have an office with a few computers and maybe two or three employees who can help people in an approachable, friendly and welcoming environment. I even envision that at some point we can work in partnership with Doral companies that can provide us with information on job vacancies that we can share with residents,” concludes Fraga.