FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--A national epidemic that is plaguing urban communities across the country, the issue of access to affordable housing has become one of our nation’s most critical human rights issues. Broward County, in South Florida, has been tokened as one of the most cost-burdened areas in the U.S., with Fort Lauderdale being one of the top 5 most cost burdened cities in the county. Like those living in Fort Lauderdale, residents in urban communities across the country welcome the concept of affordable housing developments, without it burdening the neighborhood in which they live. These attitudes create a culture of subjectivity of where affordable housing developments should be built, as opposed to availing opportunities for affordable housing to be developed.
As the City of Fort Lauderdale, Florida struggles to attack its affordable housing crisis, the Healthy Housing Foundation (HHF), a subsidiary of AIDS Healthcare Foundation has taken a bold step to ensure that political subjectivity on where affordable housing should be located doesn’t impede on developers willingness to develop 100% affordable housing properties in the city. On yesterday, Wednesday, November 13, 2019, HHF submitted a proposed ballet initiative to the City of Fort Lauderdale to ensure that proposals to build 100% affordable housing would receive fair, transparent and timely review, and would not be treated differently from housing projects intended for middle and upper-income households.
The proposed initiative would ensure that proposals to build 100% affordable housing that are in compliance with the city’s zoning requirements would not be disapproved or receive conditional approval based on the income of the residents of the proposed building or the location of the development. According to the proposed initiative, the city would only deny proposals for 100% affordable housing projects given that there is written documentation that the proposed project would either:
- Not be in compliance with a specific state or federal law, and that there is not a feasible method to have compliance with said law without rendering the development unaffordable to low-income households or the development would be financially infeasible; or
- The development project as proposed would have specific adverse impact to the public health or safety of its residents
“Given the tremendous need for low-income housing in the City of Fort Lauderdale, there is no reason why proposals to build 100% affordable housing should be treated any differently from those intended for middle and upper-income households,” stated Michael Kahane, AHF Southern Bureau Chief. “The City of Fort Lauderdale should not be applying its regulations and review differently based on the income of the intended residents or subjectively choosing where affordable housing units should be located. The ballot initiative will put people over prejudice!”
The organization has retained the services of attorney Kendall Coffey with the law firm Coffey-Burlington to lead the ballot initiative being launched by HHF as it continues to engage community support around this important community wide effort.
According to a recent Broward County Affordable Housing Needs Assessment done by the Metropolitan Center at Florida International University:
- With 1 in every 1,281 homes in Fort Lauderdale being in foreclosure, the city has the second highest foreclosure rate in Broward County;
- The median rent in Fort Lauderdale is over $1200 a month, with the average rents in Fort Lauderdale being: $1941 for a 1-bedroom, $2,705 for a 2-bedroom and $3,204 for a 3-bedroom unit;
- There are over 30,000 cost-burdened households in Fort Lauderdale, with 33% being owner-occupied and 59% being renter-occupied
As well, according to the Shimberg Center for Housing Studies at the University of Florida:
- Florida added 718,166 units with gross rents above $1,000 from 2000 to 2017 but lost 43,956 units renting for $1,000 or less.
- 795,603 low-income renters (<60% AMI) in Florida pay more than 40 percent of income for housing.
- There are only 23 affordable and available rental units for every 100 extremely low-income (<30% AMI) renter households.
Following a series of community engagement efforts, in August 2018 HHF submitted a proposal to the City of Fort Lauderdale to develop a $71 million dollar, 15 story building that would create 500 units of affordable housing, at no cost to taxpayers. Given the location of the building being developed in the Las Olas community and the income of the intended residents of the building, the organization has received many challenges from city leaders. Given its commitment to addressing Fort Lauderdale’s affordable housing crisis, AHF local leaders have continued to work with city leaders to ensure the final development of the HHF development.
About AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF)
AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest global AIDS organization, currently provides medical care and/or services to over 1.3 million individuals in 43 countries worldwide in the US, Africa, Latin America/Caribbean, the Asia/Pacific Region and Eastern Europe. To learn more about AHF, please visit our website: www.aidshealth.org, find us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/aidshealth and follow us on Twitter: @aidshealthcare and Instagram: @aidshealthcare