Housing crisis

Leaders grapple with solutions to housing crisis as problem worsens

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – The future of housing is a topic that concerns many South Florida families.

Residents wonder if they will be able to afford to continue living here.

It also has the attention of the business community and leaders in Palm Beach County, prompting an economic summit on Thursday to address trends, challenges and possible solutions to the housing crisis.

Businesses large and small, nonprofits and local leaders rose early Thursday morning at the Breakers West Country Club near West Palm Beach to tackle the crisis head-on.

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Palm Beach County Administrator Verdenia Baker offers some of the solutions leaders need to implement in an effort to alleviate housing problems.

From a housing shortage to rising rents and insurance premiums, county leaders said it has been a challenge for years. Now that it is a dire situation, they are focused on finding solutions.

Palm Beach County Administrator Verdenia Baker said to address the shortage of affordable housing and labor, the county needs to add a variety of housing types like mixed-income houses and apartments. .

“We’re going to have to get used to not having very singular developments right next to us,” Baker said.

Leaders at the event said we needed to be more efficient with land still available as more people continue to flock to South Florida.

“Our urban corridors … and our transit-oriented developments will need to be denser as we become a more urbanized county with transit,” said Jack Weir, chairman of Palm Beach County’s Housing Leadership Council.

Jack Weir, President of the Housing Leadership Council of Palm Beach County, May 5, 2022

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Jack Weir says public transit will be key in South Florida as the region’s population grows.

Home insurance rates continue to skyrocket, creating another challenge. Experts say increases will likely be 20-40% next year.

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“One of the biggest reasons for this is the cost of homes,” said Ann-Marie Batten, owner and agency manager of Batten Insurance Services. “We all know how much our properties have gone up. … Construction costs have gone up about 20% as well.”

The housing crisis affects not only landlords and tenants, but also businesses.

“We hear every day about our local businesses struggling to bring new workers to the area because it’s hard to find homes. A lot of people are losing applicants,” said Wellington Regional Medical CEO Pam Tahan. Center.

Pam Tahan, CEO of Wellington Medical Center, discusses the housing crisis, May 5, 2022

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Pam Tahan explains how unaffordable housing is impacting the recruitment of workers from other markets.

One of the main solutions discussed at the economic breakfast is finding ways to increase supply to overcome the housing shortage, as well as smart growth strategies.

“Right now, every housing decision we make on affordable housing and workforce housing is going to be a tough decision to make, Baker said.

Another economic summit will take place next month, addressing housing and transportation issues to continue the conversation.

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