The City of Miami is creating a “master plan” to address its affordable housing crisis, with a goal of creating 12,000 affordable units by 2024.
Throughout the month of April, residents in each of Miami’s five districts have met with city officials to learn about this plan and discuss how it can be catered to each neighborhood’s unique features.
The plan comes weeks after a study by Florida International University revealed that Miami was the seventh least affordable metro in the world. Only Hong Kong, Sydney, Los Angeles, London, Toronto and New York were more expensive.
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The study also found that 6 out of 10 working adults in Miami were cost burdened, meaning renters and homeowners spend over thirty percent of their incomes on housing.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development recommends families pay less than thirty percent of their income on housing. Anyone who pays above the thirty percent threshold is considered cost-burdened, and may have difficulty paying for food, clothing, transportation, and medical care.
At a meeting on Wednesday, the city visited District 2, which consists of Coconut Grove, the Islands, and eastern portions of downtown Miami. Forty percent of homeowners and renters are cost burdened in District 2. Some of the largest density of cost burdened homeowners reside in Coconut Grove, where the meeting took place.
Inside a gymnasium, tucked behind the basketball court in Elizabeth Virrick Park, residents filled a small room to discuss how the city should implement the plan.
They were told funding would mainly come from the $100 million set aside for affordable housing in the Miami Forever Bond.
However, officials, like city commissioner Ken Russell, believe it may not be enough.
“We could squander that so fast,” Russell told the crowded room. “We have to be very careful we divide it up correctly - that we leverage it to get funds from other sources and multiply it.”
Because of this, the discussion mostly relied on creative solutions, like taking advantage of publicly-owned land.
According to Annie Lord, Executive Director of Miami Homes For All, there is five hundred million square feet of publicly owned vacant land in Miami Dade County. She says it can be used to create small multi-family units.
“Most of our rental housing is small multi-family properties,” Lord says. “But we don’t really have the financing, or the civic infrastructure, to support building more of that.”
The city has considered creating a vagrant tax to help with the funding. Developers who own units or land that are not being occupied would be taxed, but Lord says that did not go over well with the residents in the room.
What has been popular in nearly every meeting, Lord says, is lowering property taxes for developers who create affordable units.
A draft of the master plan will be released April 26th.