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We have been hearing the steady drumbeat for a long time: For the poor and even those in the middle class, it’s getting harder and harder to afford living in Miami. Paychecks are being swallowed whole by the monthly rent. We’re not talking about luxury bayfront condos on Brickell. We’re talking about one-bedroom apartments in Hialeah, Little Havana, Brownsville.
An extensive Miami Herald investigation on the front page of your Sunday newspaper, Priced Out of Paradise, details the impact this housing crisis is having on our community. It’s a crying shame.
The project details how we got here and what we can do to course-correct. It’s proof of what you’ve been hearing from your friends, relatives and co-workers. We’ve always joked that living in paradise costs money, but this ridiculous.
The series is a loud call for action for our local leaders. The Editorial Board hopes that call will be answered with as much fervor as the call to improve our traffic congestion, prepare for the rising sea and take care of our children’s education.
Here are some of the revelations from the Herald investigation: According to the reporting by Andres Viglucci, experts recommend that monthly rent be limited to 30 percent of pre-tax monthly household income. A $4,000 monthly income, for example, would put your ideal rent at $1,200. Realistically, where can anyone — especially families — find a place to live for $1,200 in Miami-Dade? That apartment doesn’t exist.
To rent an apartment, you have to make at least $4,200 a month and you can only live in one city: Lauderhill. To rent a single-family home in Miami-Dade, you need to make at least $5,800.Those rents only exist in Brownsville, Liberty Square and Allapattah.
This is a form of abuse. Yes, it is. To have the financially vulnerable in our community struggling just to make a living, just to pay rent and live in fear of losing that overpriced apartment and ending up homeless … that is abuse. Think of those trapped in this vicious circle: think of the poor, think of the young, think of the old and think of so many people working, not to get ahead, but simply to pay the rent.
The problem ripples upward and sideways, too. When you have child or a relative or an elderly parent on a fixed income who can no longer afford the rent they are paying, other family members have to step in financially. Now they, too, are financially-strapped. Some local officials have made the creation of affordable housing a priority. But as people drown, no plan has been drawn up. How have we allowed this to happen and whose pockets are being lined?
As an editorial board we have recently been warning that parts of Miami-Dade could become uninhabitable in the future due to the invading sea.
We believe this catastrophic lack of affordable housing is a more immediate problem that must be tackled in Miami-Dade and Tallahassee.
Is it time for New York-style rent control legislation? How about tax breaks for renters? Does the state’s minimum wage need to climb to help make life affordable for those in the lower rungs of the economic ladder? You bet. If we’re going to be a fair and caring community for all, major changes must take place.
Hopefully, the Herald investigation will awaken our leaders to address this outrage once and for all.