We asked the following question to readers on social media and the Public Insight Network recently: Is affordable housing unattainable in Miami? Thanks for all of your responses. Below is a sampling of your comments, some of which were edited for length and clarity. Learn more about the Public Insight Network and comment on previous discussions at MiamiHerald.com/community and select Community Conversations.
I believe the lack of low cost housing is a serious problem in our community. When an individual can not earn enough income to pay for a place of their own, it is an issue. When thousands of people are in the same situation, it is a giant issue. Government-subsidized housing is not the answer because it is rationed and available only to “the deserving few.” The answer probably does require government intervention — the kind needed to encourage the development of thousands of units of low cost, small, efficient housing that can be available to all and in neighborhoods close to the low-wage retail and service jobs.
Leann Barber, Fort Lauderdale
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It is attainable if you’re unwilling to look in different areas. For example, North Miami Beach near Ojus and Greynolds Park is an extremely affordable area for first-time home buyers who are interested in being in the “middle of it all.” Downtown Fort Lauderdale and Downtown Miami are 20 minutes away, you’re five miles from the beach and you’re right next to U.S. 1 which has all the major shopping malls and restaurants. You can very easily find a home under $200,000 in this area. North Miami Beach (Sunray East) is truly a hidden gem within Miami Dade County.
Eric Ruiz, North Miami Beach
Affordable housing is only in very poor areas, as construction costs and land have become expensive. No one wants multi-family “affordable” projects built near them, because those become instant slums since the residents have no money for maintenance and few incentives to maintain those properties since they do not own them. About the only way that doesn’t happen is if the residents actually receive title to the property and if the builder doesn’t include air conditioning and heavy appliances. Their lack also limits the acceptability of such properties. In short, this is a difficult problem that isn’t likely to be solved anytime soon.
Robert Black, Miami
It is all about expectations. Without a significant down payment, most dwellings are unaffordable. With a reasonable healthy down payment or savings backed up, unaffordability becomes less of a problem. There are those making little income and with little desire to compromise who do and will find most housing in Miami as unaffordable.
Sid Kaskey, South Miami
Affordable housing has been possible for decades upon decades and is possible today. But, how do we accept a design concept that would not cater to the results of large-scale housing projects that have become crime ridden areas of high social cost? The concept for a large, high density housing project is the key element to creating appeal, comfort, practicality and affordability. Affordable housing is not a knee-jerk decision. It should never be considered “completed.” Is the population ever “completed”? However, regardless of the huge and extravagant numbers of “luxury” residences that are planned for any city these days, there must be at least threefold that number for affordable housing being produced within the same community if all institutions are to survive — if the city is to survive.
Gordon Kirk, Davie
Affordable housing is not attainable in Miami Dade’s economic infrastructure due to the decline in traditional full-time employment and hike in home loans and homeowners association prices. Miami-Dade is threatening two housing outcomes: One could create a credit bubble due to rent/lease defaults brought on by a lack of employment opportunities with longevity or the availability of full-time hires, the other could create an eviction bubble by leveraging complex leasing agreements that often favor developers against desperate consumers seeking shelter. Miami-Dade and most of Florida are turning into havens for corporate developers, which leaves the average person to salvage and conserve any inherited properties willed to them.
Lionel Lightbourne, Ives Estates
I do believe that we are in a crisis for housing as it relates to what used to be the middle class. I am not sure how the poor in our community can possibly manage with the pressure on gentrification and international buyers coming in with cash.
David Lotker, Miami
Even at zero interest and no down payment, poor people can not afford a home. So it is incumbent upon the developers to create affordable rental properties that the government can subsidize through Section 8 type programs. However, if history has shown us anything, it is that government-subsidized housing soon turns into slums because tenants do not care for things they do not own, and the government bureaucracies can not or will not take proper steps to make sure that the properties are maintained. Most of the folks that live in low-income housing are hardworking folks who just want a nice place to rest their heads, but they are not without guilt if they turn their heads and allow their children and neighbors to destroy their little slice of heaven.
Robert Reyes, Homestead
There is no decent affordable housing in Miami, not only for recent college graduates but also for anybody with a fixed income. Miami has become a city for rich people only. The income gap between groups of people is getting worse. Because of an increase of $400 per month in my previous rental, I had to move to a place with 300 less square feet, only one bathroom, no security, no under roof parking and no active involvement from the management, etc.
Mara Houstoun, Miami
Unless Miami-Dade County and all the different municipalities come up with an idea like the one in New York pitched by Mayor DiBlasio where “x” amount of affordable housing is built for every “y” amount of luxury housing, most Miamians will be priced out of both ownership and rental living space.
Elizabeth Gonzalez, Miami