Our fourth campaign in 2017, sponsored by JPMorgan Chase & Co., focused on the critical issue of housing affordability in our South Florida community. We partnered with 10 local organizations to invite everyone in the region to post ideas, questions, and resources responding to the question “What are the best ways to improve housing affordability in South Florida?”
In 5 days, over 2,500 group members suggested over 250 unique ideas for how to improve housing affordability. A summary of these ideas is presented in our Final Report. In addition, the Appendix highlights all 250+ ideas generated and suggested during the campaign. These ideas are condensed from their original submissions and combined in cases where multiple authors submitted similar ideas.
Local leaders participated in two Facebook Live dialogues around the topic of housing affordability with The New Tropic and Univision Contigo. We received generous press coverage from Univision Contigo (Article I, Article II) and the Miami Herald. You can also hear Radical Partners Managing Director Sarah Emmons and Miami Homes for All Housing Project Manager Sabrina Velarde discuss the campaign on the RadioActive show.
We partnered with 10 local organizations as guest hosts for this campaign: Catalyst Miami, University of Miami Office of Civic & Community Engagement, Community Justice Project, Engage Miami, Miami Homes for All, South Florida Community Development Coalition, the United Way of Miami-Dade, the South Florida Community Land Trust, New Florida Majority, and the NAACP Miami-Dade.
You can learn more about housing affordability in our backgrounder:
PROGRESS on housing affordability:
UPDATED AUGUST 2018
Progress on introducing more community land trusts (CLTs): non-profit organization SMASH secured their first parcel of land to develop a CLT in Liberty City and there are new incentives for CLTs in funding applications
Miami-Dade County and the City of Miami are moving forward on affordable housing master plans
Miami-Dade County's infill program now allows modular development
Miami-Dade County is exploring future opportunities for more transit-oriented development
Miami-Dade County Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava sponsored a resolution to expedite permitting for workforce housing projects
Commissioners are exploring Accessory Dwelling Units as an affordable housing option
City of Miami committee studying the 100 Great Ideas final report
The City of Miami implemented a “Transfer of Development Density” program to allow historic buildings to sell their unused density.
To learn more, keep reading below!
1. COMMUNITY LAND TRUSTS
Community Land Trusts (CLTs) were discussed at length during the campaign (see posts from Lauren Harper, the South Florida Community Land Trust, and Adrian Madriz). In short, community land trusts are a model that separates the cost of land and the residences built upon it, with the ultimate goal of providing affordable housing opportunities and preserving the affordability of the land. Since the campaign:
Local non-profit SMASH (Struggle for Miami’s Affordable and Sustainable Housing) has secured land for its first project in Liberty City. SMASH hopes to build a small, two-story building with three units - one unit will be held affordable at $300/month, one unit will house four homeless LGBT youth and the third unit will rent at the market rate of about $1,600/month.
The South Florida Community Land Trust, which has created 63 affordable units in Broward County, has recently expanded operations to Miami-Dade and have hired a Miami Market Manager. In July 2018, SFCLT acquired a property for the first CLT units in Little Haiti, using the SFCLT Accelerator Fund, with founding corporate investment from Citi Community Development. They hosted the first community meeting with the Haitian American CDC in October 2018. They also have several other projects in the pipeline.
Miami-Dade County’s Public Housing and Community Development office (PHCD) has also incorporated new incentives for CLTs in the 2017 and 2018 Surtax/SHIP applications. These local administrative changes will help CLTs acquire the funding they need to fully fund projects after they’ve gained control of a piece of land.
2. AFFORDABLE HOUSING MASTER PLANS
Participants, including Katharine Barry, Mandy Bartle, and Clark Stephens, suggested that local governments (both counties and municipalities) need affordable housing master plans, or blueprints, to strategically build and preserve affordable housing in our region. These blueprints, which have been adopted in other regions like Denver and Austin, identify affordable housing needs in specific communities and outline specific strategies and plans (with timelines!) to meet those needs.
Miami-Dade County Updates re: Affordable Housing Plans:
In exploring how Miami-Dade County could move forward on an affordable housing plan, we found that Miami-Dade County had developed a 5-year master affordable housing plan in 2012-2013. To better understand progress on goals outlined in this plan, Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava proposed a resolution to direct the Miami-Dade County Mayor to prepare a report on the status of the existing plan. The resolution passed unanimously in May 2018, and in July 2018, the Mayor released that report, which details progress on the plan, impediments, and potential strategies for providing more affordable housing in Miami-Dade County. Here are a few highlights from that report:
Since the 2012-2013 fiscal year, the County has utilized $188.2 million in funds from the Documentary Stamp Surtax Program, HOME Investment Partnerships Program, and Neighborhood Stabilization Program to build or rehab over 6,000 units.
Despite this investment, the County still cites significant financial impediments to adequately fund enough affordable housing projects to meet the regional need. Specifically, the funds available through the Documentary Stamp Surtax Program are tied to commercial transactions, which ebb and flow over time and are currently in a decline. In addition, Federal HOME funds are not available at a level to make a significant impact.
A lack of funds through the Surtax and HOME programs leads developers to turn to County funds, tax-exempt bonds, and non-competitive 4% low-income housing tax credits to fully fund affordable housing projects. Even with these funding streams, sufficient funding is not available to build and preserve enough housing to meet the regional need.
Proposed strategies for increasing the amount of affordable housing included: faster governmental approval, community land trusts, preservation of existing naturally occuring affordable housing (NOAH) and inclusionary zoning.
Miami-Dade County is in the process of developing a new affordable housing blueprint to guide the development and preservation of affordable housing in the county. Miami Homes For All is working with cross-sector stakeholders and contracting with the Florida International University Metropolitan Center to create this 5-year affordable housing blueprint with and for Miami-Dade County. The vision for this blueprint is that it is 1) data-driven, 2) community-informed, and 3) actionable.
City of Miami Updates re: Affordable Housing Plans:
The City of Miami Commission in July 2018 approved a City partnership with the Florida International University Metropolitan Center to develop an affordable housing master plan, an effort which Miami Homes For All is supporting. See this tweet from Mayor Francis Suarez!
In August 2019, Miami-Dade County commissioners officially adopted the Greater Miami and the Beaches Resilient 305 strategy. The report marks a pivot point for our community: a new, unified approach that looks at many of the challenges we already face – like affordability, poverty, traffic and inadequate transit – with the added pressure of sea level rise, under an innovative resilience framework. The strategy is a road map to protecting our tremendous natural environment while also supporting social and economic health so that our residents can not only survive but thrive.
3. ZONING CHANGES RE: BUILDING MATERIALS
Participant Boukman Mangones suggested that the government change zoning laws to allow for prefabricated, manufactured, and/or modular homes in single-family and multi-family zones. These types of homes are built off-site and then are assembled on the property, which makes the construction process cheaper, on average, than traditional “stick-built” homes.
At the time of the 100 Great Ideas campaign in November 2017, Miami-Dade Public Housing and Community Development (PHCD) did not allow these types of homes to be utilized as part of their in-fill program, which allows the County to sale or transfer County-owned properties to developers who are required to build affordable homes to be sold to very low, low- and moderate-income persons. Since the campaign, PHCD has modified it’s requirements so that any housing that conforms to code (including manufactured, pre-fabricated, and modular homes) can now be built on in-fill properties, which will contribute to the ability of developers to build more properties for lower-income individuals and families.
In 2019, in line with the City’s ongoing efforts to make Miami a more resilient city, City Commissioners discussed an amendment to the Miami 21 Zoning Code that would allow for greater ground floor heights. Specifically, the code update would allow new construction and redevelopment projects to raise structures up to 5 feet above base flood elevation. The amendment would also allow additional first floor height for ground floor retail establishments so they can better account for upgrades to public infrastructure the City is putting in place in response to sea level rise.
4. TRANSIT-ORIENTED DEVELOPMENT
Participants including Jorge Damian de la Paz cited the need for more residential development along existing and future transit corridors.
Since the campaign, the following have occurred:
The Public Housing and Community Development Department (PHCD), Regulatory Economic Resources (RER), and the Department of Transportation and Public Works (DTPW) are working together to analyze properties along the County’s transit corridors that are suitable for housing development.
The University of Miami Office of Civic & Community Engagement, in partnership with Citi Community Development, has created a map outlining the distribution of vacant and underused land owned by local governments alongside Miami’s transit corridors (see picture). This interactive tool (to be released soon!) will help planners, community groups, and affordable housing developers identify potential development opportunities near transit.
South Florida Community Land Trust received the Pro Neighborhoods award from JP Morgan Chase to create an Equitable Housing Implementation plan to ensure that affordable housing opportunities remain available along the railways of the South Florida Tri-Rail Coastal Link. As the rail system continues to expand and link South Florida’s major downtown communities, property values are expected to increase near the station areas. The organization will use its proven Community Land Trust model to create a permanent source of affordable housing for residents who already live in these communities.
5. EXPEDITED PERMITTING
Many participants, including Marvin Wilmoth during a Facebook Live discussion with The New Tropic, cited lengthy and cumbersome permitting processes as barriers to developing affordable and workforce housing. In response, Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava sponsored a resolution which directed the county mayor to promote and encourage the use of the county’s expedited permit program for workforce housing units, develop a marketing strategy, and provide a report to the board detailing those efforts. This resolution was adopted on May 1st, 2018.
The City of Miami launched Electronic Plan Review aka ePlan on October 1st, 2018 where users can apply for permits online, upload plans/drawings and documents without visiting the City of Miami, monitor and track applications throughout the plans review process, view corrective comments and markups, and more.
6. ACCESSORY DWELLING UNITS
The topic of accessory dwelling units (otherwise known as “granny flats” or “in-law units”) were brought up by many, including Mark Grafton. Participants suggested that amending zoning codes to promote the development of these units would add new affordable units and density to neighborhoods.
Since the campaign, the following progress has been made related to ADUs:
Mark Grafton conducted a Citizen’s Presentation at the July 17th 2018 Housing and Social Services Committee meeting where he discussed the role that accessory dwelling units can play in providing affordable housing.
The County’s Infill Housing Program was updated in March 2018 to allow duplexes for the first time, which could encourage affordable ADUs and homeownership opportunities.
Miami-Dade County Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava is currently exploring opportunities to amend the county’s zoning code.
It is worth noting that ADUs are currently permitted in the City of Miami in certain zones (T3-L, T4) as long as they are at most 450 square feet and the property owner lives on site.
7. CONTINUED EXPLORATION OF IDEAS
City of Miami Commissioner Ken Russell saw many ideas in the 100 Great Ideas report that he was interested in exploring further, so sponsored a resolution (which passed) to direct the city administration, in consultation with the Housing and Commercial Loan Oversight Committee (HCLC) to review the final report and submit it’s findings and any proposals contained in the report that can be practically implemented to the City of Miami and the city commission. As of August 2018, we’ve heard that the HCLC has taken up 100 Great Ideas and that their recommendations will come before the City Commission in the near future.
8. INCREASING SUPPLY OF HOUSING
In addition to building more affordable housing, participants cited the importance of preserving existing affordable housing. Mileyka Burgos and Christine Rupp both suggested utilizing historical buildings with community significance for innovative housing “to preserve the unique architectural, environmental and cultural integrity of our diverse urban neighborhoods.”
Since the campaign, the following progress has been made:
The City of Miami commission approved legislation creating a “Transfer of Development Density” program that will lead to a greater supply of housing while also incentivizing historic preservation. How it works: Any properties designed “historic” have unused “development capacity” that they cannot use (in other words, owners could build a bigger property on their land, but because the property is historic, they cannot tear down their property to rebuild or add additional floors/units). This “Transfer of Development Density” program would allow owners to “sell” the density they’re allowed (but can’t take advantage of) to another property owner located within a 0.5 mile radius of their zone. All in all, this program both allows historic property owners to gain some income by selling development rights AND allows for additional units to be built (which increases the supply of housing).
The Miami Omni Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) broke ground February 2019 on its new “16 Corner” housing project in the Overtown neighborhood. Located at 1540 NW 1st Street, the project includes the renovation of 44 historic apartments and will result in an innovative, mixed-income housing complex. Importantly, “16 Corner” also showcases one of the City’s top priorities, quality of life for residents, and will deliver an affordable, high-quality housing option to local residents.
Of note: Energy/Water Efficiency Programs
Many participants, including Vanessa Tinsley and Richard Lamondin, cited the need for affordable housing units to be energy and water efficient. While we’re unaware of any new programs that have been introduced since the campaign in 2017, it is worth noting that Miami-Dade County does have a variety of programs that provide or subsidize purchase of water efficient devices: a Free Showerhead Exchange, a Free Multi-Family Showerhead Retrofit, and a High Efficiency Fixture Rebate (for toilets, showerheads, and faucets).
If you are aware of additional updates that you would suggest we include here, please email Sarah Emmons at email@example.com and include relevant information/links. Thank you!