The Real Deal Miami

Mandatory workforce housing one step closer to reality in Miami-Dade

Development community voiced opposition during public hearing

October 13, 2016 06:30PM
By Sean Stewart-Muniz

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Commissioner Barbara Jordan

Commissioner Barbara Jordan

With an affordability crisis gripping Miami-Dade County’s housing market, county commissioners have given a preliminary thumbs-up to a controversial proposal that would require price-regulated units in most new developments.

The ordinance, sponsored by commissioner Barbara Jordan, was approved by Miami-Dade’s Economic Prosperity Committee Thursday after more than two hours of public discussion, clearing the way for a full vote before the county commission in November.

Jordan’s legislation would require all new residential projects with more than 20 units to reserve 10 percent of their residences as workforce housing. That means prices would remain affordable for residents earning between 60 percent and 140 percent of Miami-Dade’s median income, which is $48,100 per year.

In return, developers would receive a 15 percent density bonus that could potentially be transferred to different projects. To help get lenders on board, Jordan said, she removed a restriction that would keep for-sale units affordable if they fall into foreclosure. The proposal would also exclude all affordable housing developments.

The program is not without detractors. During the meeting, members of the Latin Builders Association and the Builders Association of South Florida, two construction trade groups, both lobbied for voluntary programs.

Ben Solomon, president of the Builders Association of South Florida, told commissioners that a mandatory problem could stifle new development in the county, hurting some of the same people the ordinance was meant to help — laborers, construction workers and building suppliers.

“This ordinance has a lot of unintended consequences,” he said. “I caution the commission against passing something just for the sake of passing something.”

Commissioner Bruno Barreiro, the sole dissenting vote, also cast his doubts on whether Jordan’s plan will be effective. He suggested the program should only mandate 1 percent or 2 percent of a project’s units for workhouse housing, but developers would only be eligible for a density bonus if they include a higher percentage.

Ultimately, the commission approved the ordinance 5-1.

“To reduce the number of units being built would be deadly,” Commissioner Xavier Suarez said. “We are under the gun here.”