The Real Deal Miami

Mandatory workforce housing act rejected by Miami-Dade commission

County already has voluntary program that has seen little success
December 21, 2016 11:15AM

Commissioner Barbara Jordan

A controversial plan to mandate workforce housing in all new Miami-Dade County residential projects fell apart at the county commission’s Tuesday meeting.

With mounting pressure from the development industry and her fellow commissioners, Barbara Jordan reportedly pulled her mandatory workforce housing program off the table, agreeing to revise it as a voluntary system.

The plan as originally proposed would have forced all new residential projects with more than 20 units to set aside 10 percent of their condos for the workforce — residents who make between $42,600 and $99,400 annually.

Miami-Dade’s individual municipalities would have had to either adopt the legislation or come up with their own, and builders would have been given the option to opt out of the requirements by paying into a county fund.

Jordan’s proposal passed an initial reading in October. But at Tuesday’s meeting, the Miami Herald reported that seven of the 12 commissioners present voted against the measure in a straw ballot, essentially snubbing the ordinance before its final vote.

“Social engineering is very dangerous,” Commissioner Javier Souto said, according to the Herald. “This is like handling explosives. You make a mistake, you blow your head off.”

The measure was meant to stem a growing affordability crisis in Miami-Dade, where the average family’s income has lagged behind rising home prices. Dissenting commissioners argued that developers would have just passed the cost of the mandated units onto their market-rate buyers.

Jordan revised her proposal as a voluntary program where developers would build workforce units in exchange for density bonuses, a move that received unanimous support from the other commissioners, the Herald reported. A similar voluntary program already exists in the county, though it’s seen little success. [Miami Herald]Sean Stewart-Muniz