Op-Ed

Miami-Dade County should support Affordable Housing Trust Fund

Officials break ground for an affordable housing project in Overtown last year. From left: Matthew Rieger, president of the Housing Trust Group; Miami Comm. Keon Hardemon; Miami-Dade Comm. Audrey Edmonson; Alonzo Mourning; Randy Rieger, and Clarence woods, executive director of the Miami Community Redevelopment Agency.
Officials break ground for an affordable housing project in Overtown last year. From left: Matthew Rieger, president of the Housing Trust Group; Miami Comm. Keon Hardemon; Miami-Dade Comm. Audrey Edmonson; Alonzo Mourning; Randy Rieger, and Clarence woods, executive director of the Miami Community Redevelopment Agency. MIAMI HERALD STAFF

Various industries and sectors including real estate, business, banking, philanthropy, nonprofit, faith-based, the health sector and more, have come together to call upon Mayor Gimenez and the Board of County Commissioners to respond to the community’s call to set aside a portion of funding for the Affordable Housing Trust Fund.

Miami-Dade County is suffering from a housing crisis where over half of households are paying more than 30 percent of their income on housing costs. This housing crisis is felt by a significant sector of the community, from the homeless and extremely low-income, to the lower-income households, all the way to the workforce and young professionals who leave Miami because they cannot afford to live here.

Local, state, and national headlines continue to proclaim that “Miami still rates as the most unaffordable city in the U.S.” and has become “prohibitively expensive for middle- and low-income renters.”

In response to the need and the mayor’s recognition that increasing the resources for housing will require innovative solutions, our county leadership has taken laudable steps in adopting several appropriate policies to address this issue.

In May 2016, the County Commission reaffirmed the county’s mission of “creating, maintaining, and preserving affordable housing,” and determined that additional funds were needed to accomplish that mission. The County Commission then voted in overwhelming support to either allocate 10 percent of any projected increase in general fund revenues or $10 million, whichever amount is lower, to the Affordable Housing Trust Fund.

However, because the commission’s resolution is subject to annual appropriations, this new funding is at severe risk of not being allocated. It is a difficult task to balance complex and multi-faceted priorities. However, housing must be a top priority as it is the bedrock upon which healthy, vibrant and resilient communities are built.

The Miami-Dade County Office of Management and Budget has offered an alternative solution to ensure an allocation for the Affordable Housing Trust Fund of up to $10 million. This other option is based on using a different source of funding within the budget that is more reliable. There are now two ways to fund the Affordable Housing Trust Fund.

Regardless of the mechanism that is used, funding must be placed into the Affordable Housing Trust Fund to help jumpstart new housing initiatives and pilot programs. Mayor Gimenez stated at the Housing Summit held in May of 2015 that our government resources are not enough to address the problem and that government cannot do it alone.

Indeed, the community has been prepared to use the Affordable Housing Trust Fund to leverage private investment dollars to multiply and maximize any government contribution, but need an initial, meaningful contribution to begin. One signatory organization, Miami Homes For All, has already made $1 million of its own funds available to potentially contribute the fund.

Community groups applaud the county commissioners who were present in May that voted to pass this resolution to fund the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, and now, Mayor Gimenez needs to follow their leadership to respond to the crisis. The County Commission must also provide the leadership and oversight required to ensure that the necessary funding is placed into the budget through whatever mechanism is deemed most reliable and secure.

The above was signed by the following local organizations:

Miami Homes For All

People Acting for Community Together (PACT)

Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce Housing Solutions Task Force

South Florida Community Development Coalition

Atlantic Pacific Communities

The Gatehouse Group

Community Justice Project

The Cornerstone Group

Carrfour Supportive Housing, Inc.

Florida Legal Services

Fanm Ayisyen Nan Miyami, Inc.

Catalyst Miami

Urban League of Greater Miami; New Urban Development LLC

Trinity Empowerment Consortium, Inc.

The New Florida Majority

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