Miami Beach

Miami Beach opens affordable housing wait list. Almost 7,000 apply in first 24 hours.

The hard commute and tough day of one hotel housekeeper

Fontainebleau hotel housekeeper Odelie Paret can spend up to four hours getting to work on county buses. Her story is common in the Miami-Dade County hospitality world where high rents in the county have pushed workers farther away from their jobs
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Fontainebleau hotel housekeeper Odelie Paret can spend up to four hours getting to work on county buses. Her story is common in the Miami-Dade County hospitality world where high rents in the county have pushed workers farther away from their jobs

Miami Beach is once again opening its wait list for affordable housing — but residents will have to act fast.

From now until Friday, July 5, residents will have a chance to get a spot on the city’s wait list for affordable housing properties with studio apartments. They can apply online, not in person. This is the third time since 2015 that the city has opened the waiting list.

Pre-applications opened up Monday morning for studio apartments for up to two people at Madeleine Village in North Beach and Neptune Apartments in South Beach. Applicants’ household income must be no less than $8,868 and no more than $47,450 for a household of one and $54,200 for a household of two. The set rent amount for the studio apartments is $739 a month. The city currently has 51 studio apartment units designated as affordable housing, said spokeswoman Melissa Berthier.

The city will select up to 1,000 wait list applicants from pre-applications, which will be chosen through a lottery system on July 10 at city commission chambers. Pre-applicants are not required to be present during the drawing, and the results will be posted online on July 12.

In the first 24 hours of pre-applications opening, the city received more than 6,600 applications, said Maria Ruiz, director of Miami Beach’s Office of Housing and Community Services.

“It’s a powerful measure of what’s needed,” Ruiz said. “Clearly there are a lot of people who are having a hard time keeping a roof over their heads. Opportunities like this to be able to provide safe, secure housing is something that is very valuable. There’s just a greater marketplace for people who are having a hard time finding what they can afford. These units provide an opportunity to those people who are struggling.”

One issue is that so many Miami Beach jobs are low-paying positions in the service industry, and many workers can’t afford a home in the Beach. In 2017, the Miami Herald reported a story on Fountainebleau hotel housekeeper Odelie Paret who commutes an hour or more from Opa-locka to her job in Miami Beach due to lack of affordable housing and workforce housing.

Ruiz said the number of people on the wait list for affordable housing, specifically for studio apartments, is close to 200. “When we reach a certain point in the wait list we like to replenish the wait list so there’s no delay whenever there’s a vacancy,” Ruiz said.

There are separate wait lists for larger units. However, the only wait list open right now is for studio apartments for up to two people.

The process to screen individuals once apartments become vacant can be quite lengthy, Ruiz said, sometimes taking up to two months. The city held similar lottery drawings in 2015 and in 2018 and received about 5,000 and almost 8,000 pre-applicants, respectively, said Alba Ana Tarre, assistant director of Miami Beach’s Office of Housing and Community Services.

The city’s online wait list “has been very effective,” Tarre said. “We’ve been able to place people in our units. We had a problem in the past and the wait list and lottery have really been able to maintain the process” transparently.

There’s been some confusion among residents who think they are applying for Section 8 housing. Section 8 housing is a different program with different income requirements and is run by the city’s Housing Authority, which is not currently accepting pre-applications.

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