The city of Miami partnered with a nonprofit to launch Keep Safe Miami, a program that will offer affordable housing owners and operators help in updating their buildings to be more climate resilient.
Enterprise Community Partners unveiled the program Tuesday with Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, as well as with officials from Miami-Dade County and the city of Miami Beach. Property owners in the city of Miami will be able to apply for forgivable loans up to $100,000 per property for a total of $500,000. Those funds will come from Community Development Block Grant Programs.
Miami Beach has identified $600,000 in funds, but not all of that would go toward this program, said Laurie Schoeman, a senior program director with Enterprise Community Partners.
Affordable housing landlords throughout Miami-Dade can sign up for the free training program, which will show property owners how to assess their buildings’ climate resilience without using architects or engineers. The program is available to owners of affordable housing properties with tenants earning 80 percent or below the area median income in Miami-Dade County.
The software will analyze which properties are the most and least resilient in a landlord’s portfolio, evaluate what needs to be changed or updated on a building-by-building basis, and offer a funding resources guide showing how those owners can fund improvements.
Overall, the program aims to identify improvements that landlords can make now, so they do not have to react to damage following a major natural disaster such as a hurricane. Keep Safe Miami could serve as a pilot program to be implemented all over the country, said Schoeman and Sara Haas, director of the Southeast for Enterprise Community Partners.
“Some of the issues we’ve seen is that a lot of affordable housing reserves aren’t there and operations and maintenance can sometimes be deferred based on budget constraints,” Schoeman said. “When you defer it, it doesn’t go away. When you’re in a zone that’s a flood zone often you’ll find the infrastructure is not being maintained. It gets compounded over the years.”
South Florida has about 43,000 affordable multifamily housing units, and many are facing aging-related issues in addition to dealing with the effects of climate change, according to the nonprofit.
The pandemic has also exacerbated financial hardships facing affordable housing landlords and renters, and municipalities within South Florida have started to offer aid.
The Miami City Commission recently voted to allocate $14 million of federal funds for rental assistance. Those funds will be available for those who qualify for unemployment or have experienced a financial hardship due to Covid-19, including a reduction in household income. Eligible households will be able to receive up to $24,000, Suarez said at a separate press conference on Tuesday. Applications are not yet open and Suarez said the website is being created.
Last week, Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava proposed a $60 million relief program for residential landlords that have pending writs of possession with tenants facing eviction. The program will offer those landlords back rent of up to $3,000 per month dating back to March 2020, using federal funding.