And what about “workforce” housing?
State statute defines workforce housing as housing that’s affordable to people making at or less than 140 percent of an area’s median income — a number that also comes from HUD.
But organizations who work on this issue, like Miami Homes for All, say that the descriptor is sort of imperfect, because even folks making well below 140 percent of the median income (or about $73,220) are also part of the workforce.
And as MHFA’s policy director Evian White De Leon notes, these terms are all pretty relative for residents.
“What’s affordable to me might not be affordable to you,” White De Leon said. “And workforce housing is not just for the upper levels of [area median income] — it is for everyone.”
So when a development promises “workforce” housing it’s often not affordable for the average working person.
What else is happening on this issue?
Annie Lord, MHFA’s director, says her organization is focused on identifying the publicly-owned land that’s already available across Miami-Dade County, so leaders can work quickly to create more affordable housing stock.
On the policy side, Lord’s hopeful that organizations like hers can propose impactful changes to local laws that will lead to the construction of rental units that people can truly afford.
“How do we coordinate the resources and the permitting processes between Miami-Dade County and other municipalities, especially municipalities devoting resources to affordable housing?,” Lord said. “We’re looking at what’s achievable.”
As leaders and non-profits tackle this issue, Lord said it’s important to remember how easily a lack of affordable housing can cause a person to run out of options.
“We’re potentially in a situation where we’ll see an explosion of our homeless population,” Lord said. “And I do think that, unless we do something major, we could be heading there.”