Miami moves to more incentives for affordable housing
Written by John Charles Robbins on November 1, 2016
To face head-on the serious lack of affordable housing in the City of Miami, city commissioners are preparing to offer further incentives to developers in order to encourage construction of housing that everyone can afford.
Last week, commissioners unanimously gave preliminary approval to a zoning amendment that defines various types of affordable housing and offers added incentives to companies for the development of projects providing housing for mixed-income populations.
This latest proposal is sponsored by Commissioner Frank Carollo, and could receive its final vote this month.
The proposal focuses on affordable housing categories, and Commissioner Carollo said the city “desperately needs” projects that deliver in each category.
He said the amendment also adds incentives for projects that mix all categories.
“Thank you for bringing this,” said Commissioner Ken Russell. “I love the idea.”
Commissioner Francis Suarez, who has advanced several measures to encourage more affordable housing, said “I’m very much in favor.” He said it’s very good when commissioners “can find non-economic ways to expand our abilities.”
Mr. Suarez said affordable housing is “the number one need in the city.”
Commissioner Wifredo “Willy” Gort agreed, saying workforce housing is very important to a city and is being “left behind” in the dust of residential towers offering market rate and high-priced units.
Workforce housing is considered affordable homes for middle-income service workers – such as police officers, firefighters, teachers and nurses – near their workplaces.
Albert Milo Jr., senior vice president of Related Urban Development, praised commissioners and thanked the city’s administrative staff for its work on the proposal.
While Miami has been growing via plenty of high-end residential buildings, little to no workforce housing has been developed, he said.
This proposed legislation will allow developers to use existing financing programs to fund housing that is more affordable, Mr. Milo said.
It is “very forward thinking” on the city’s part, he concluded.
The latest proposal adds incentives for affordable housing projects fully comprised of workforce housing units and affordable housing units, and an additional density bonus for such projects with an extremely low income component.
The legislation notes that the National Low Income Housing Coalition has found a full-time minimum wage worker cannot afford a one-bedroom rental unit at fair market rent in any state within the US.
Miami’s zoning code includes incentives for some affordable housing projects but only serves residents at or below 60% of Area Median Income (AMI). Those projects tend not to serve residents substantially below 60% of AMI, or residents between 60% and 140% of AMI, the proposal says.
Defined by categories:
- Affordable Housing shall mean a dwelling unit, owner-occupied and/or rental housing with a purchase cost, value, or monthly rental, equal to or less than the amounts established by the applicable standards for those individuals whose income is at or below 60% of AMI, as published by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development and certified by the Department of Community and Economic Development.
- Attainable Mixed-Income Housing shall mean a development completely comprised of Extremely Low Income Housing, Affordable Housing, and Workforce Housing; and may be subject to density bonuses.
- Extremely Low Income Housing shall mean a dwelling unit, owner-occupied and/or rental housing with a purchase cost, value, or monthly rental, equal to or less than the amounts established by the applicable standards for those individuals whose income is at or below 30% of AMI.
- Workforce housing shall mean a dwelling unit, owner-occupied and/or rental housing with a purchase cost, value, or monthly rental equal to or less than the amounts established by the applicable standards for those individuals whose income is between 60% to 140% of AMI.
Parking requirements for those units that qualify as affordable or attainable mixed-income housing may be reduced under certain conditions under the proposal.
Brickell View Terrace, developed by Pinnacle Housing Group at 940 SW First Ave., is the first mixed-income development in the city.
The $59 million development features 176 one-, two- and three-bedroom units, 100 of which are affordable to households at 60% AMI or below.
The project’s leasing office received 7,500 applications in 12 days for the affordable units, a dramatic reminder of the demand for affordable housing in Miami.
Funding for Brickell View Terrace was provided by the City of Miami, Miami-Dade County, the State of Florida and Citibank.