The affordable housing crisis hits close to home

Let’s cut right to the chase. Across the country, there is an affordable housing crisis. And in Miami, despite robust development and investment opportunities, the city is a high-rent/low-income region, making it one of the least affordable cities in the country.

One study reports that 71% of the households in the City of Miami are renters. Of those, 61% are considered cost-burdened, with 30% of their income going to rent and very little of it available to spend elsewhere in the community.

In May 2019, the Connect Capital Miami report was released. The effort is the culmination of months of interviews and meetings with primary stakeholders, from city and community leaders to investors and residents. The report not only provides a glimpse into the difficult situation in Miami, but also offers suggestions on how to best address the problem.

A snapshot of Connect Capital Miami

The goal of the study was to discover a way for the City of Miami to create or preserve 12,000 affordable housing units by 2024. To accomplish that, the City would have to tackle the issue using a three-pronged approach:

  • Identify pipelines to potential development. This includes building and preserving multi-family properties, single-family-home ownership, redevelopment of existing affordable housing properties, and creating supportive housing with on-site assistance, such as healthcare and case management services.

  • Establish development criteria. Here, the emphasis is on creating supportive and sustainable communities that are walkable and located near opportunities, basic needs, and public transportation. In addition to affordable rentals and on-site support services, there is an emphasis on mixed-income and mixed-use development.

  • Enabling the environment. This involves …

Enabling the environment is a key takeaway

Perhaps no other segment of the report garnered as much attention as the idea of enabling the environment—that is, clear recommendations that use Miami’s strengths and tools that already exist. Among the recommendations are:

  • Through the use of LAND: Land Access for Neighborhood Development—a map created by the University of Miami’s Office of Civic and Community Engagement—the city can identify publicly owned vacant and under-utilized land.

  • Adjust existing zoning codes to meet the challenges. An example is looking at older properties that have been labeled as out-of-compliance because their densities no longer meet current codes. As a result, it becomes challenging for them to be refinanced or purchased.

  • Coordinate public funding, permits, and application processes to lower development expenses and solve timeline issues.

  • Reduce property taxes on affordable homes.

  • Identify new funding streams and modify existing ones.

The City of Miami releases its strategy

With the release of the final Connect Capital Miami Report in May 2019, the City of Miami took the findings to heart. Working with the Jorge M. Perez Metropolitan Center at Florida International University, the city developed the Miami Affordable Housing Master Plan in January 2020. The effort took into account many of the recommendations from the Connect Capital Report, such as streamlining the permit process and reviewing zoning regulations.

The core of the plan is for small and mid-sized developers and builders to renovate or develop small- and medium-sized lots—“infill” projects. Much of the master plan relies on private enterprise, but the city would create an independent Miami Affordable Finance Corporation for loan coordination. It would also use the Miami Housing Innovation Fund, a pool of funds from public, private, and philanthropic sectors.

Building a future through local partnerships

At Morris Southeast Group, we cannot say enough about the strength of partnerships and the power of community. It’s one of the reasons we’ve been proud to call South Florida home for more than 30 years. In partnering with affordable housing solutions, CRE developers enrich the community by providing jobs, goods and services, and increasing traffic to CRE properties. It’s good sense, all around.

To learn more about what Morris Southeast Group can do for you, call us at 954.474.1776. You can also reach Ken Morris directly at 954.240.4400 or via email at


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