Confused about affordable housing in Miami? Here are a few basics

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.”

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Help in the fight for affordable housing

“Every resident in Miami can participate in addressing this problem in two ways,” Lord says. “First, we need to be more flexible in how we define our way of life. Our county is growing and improving in so many beautiful ways, attracting more residents every day. The only way to absorb more and younger residents is to increase the inventory of housing in more neighborhoods – not just downtown. Those of us who are more fortunate still cannot afford to drive the workforce further and further away from employment centers. Everyone’s quality of life will increase when we can live in more integrated, less segregated communities.” 

“Second,” she says, “we have to vote for statewide policy-makers and policies that won’t strip away our local ability to address the affordability crisis – one that we experience more than anywhere else in Florida. We all need to vote for state legislators that won’t raid the Affordable Housing Trust Fund. Also, we need to be on the lookout for policies that are proposed under the guise of putting money back into taxpayers’ pockets, when in fact they gouge municipalities’ scarce resources for essential services like fire, police, water and sewer – never mind affordable housing.”

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The lack of affordable housing has an impact on a family's health - a negative one

"Preserving and rehabilitating subsidized and low-cost, market-rate housing is a strategy that recognizes how health outcomes are directly correlated to housing security... 

...Looking forward, 95 properties in our county — like Stanley Axlrod Towers on Brickell Avenue in Miami — are slated to lose their subsidy contracts in the next 10 years...Protecting and expanding the housing supply for people of the most modest means ultimately saves spending on social services later down the line...

Too often, we imagine homelessness and housing insecurity as a one-dimensional problem, which keeps us from reaching a systemic understanding and finding solutions for the problem. Breaking down entrenched silos is not easy, but we need policymakers, city leaders, and health and housing providers to work together to address housing as a social determinant of health..."

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Miami Homes For All
MHFA and Educate Tomorrow join forces for #MyMiamiStory

We connected with 15 people from different spaces for #MyMiamiStory today. The conversation focused on experiences of homelessness and housing instability of young people in our community — and how they intersect with education, health, the arts, and our economy. Donette said it best: “Homelessness is a universal problem that everyone should try to change.” Snaps to Educate Tomorrow for co-hosting, FPL for sponsoring lunch, CIC Miami for being our fabulous office home, and @MiamiFoundation for providing the platform! #MiamiHomesForAll#WhatsYourMiamiStory #safeandstablehousing #coachingforsuccess

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Luxury housing is increasing in Miami. So is homelessness.

“The affordable housing is the big piece. That is really the overarching cloud of this all because even if you were to build all the shelters in the world to house folks who are on the street homeless right now … the question is what next?” De Leon said. “If they can’t afford the rent and they cant afford to live where they work and where their kids go to school, I find it really hard to think of a bigger barrier to pushing homelessness aside or eradicating homelessness.”

The takeaway: homelessness is a really complex issue in Miami that demands an equally complex solution if we're going to fix it.

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Trabajaron toda la vida para pagar el tráiler y se quedarán en la calle

Where do folks go when they lose their homes and the rent is too damn high in Miami? Gracias to Sarah Moreno at El Nuevo Herald for highlighting the affordable housing crisis.

“Por su parte, Evian White De Leon, directora de programas y políticas de la organización no lucrativa Miami Homes For All, señala que las sumas que se ofrecen a los vecinos de Sunny Gardens Mobile Home Park es muy poco debido a los elevados alquileres en Miami.”

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