Housing report

New Affordable Housing Report Shows Scale of Broward County’s Crisis

The number of people spending more money than they should on housing in Broward County continues to rise.

According to a report released by Florida International University’s Metropolitan Center in late April – with data from 2018 – about 77,000 renters in the county spend more than half of their income on housing, showing how much housing lower cost Broward needs now, and for the future.

WLRN’ spoke with the county’s director of housing finance and community redevelopment, Ralph Stone. He oversees housing programs and advises Broward Commissioners on what needs to happen so more people can afford to live in the county.

The following interview has been edited for clarity and length.

WLRN: The last time Broward County conducted a study of its affordable housing needs was four years ago, with data from 2014. Since then, what have been the most significant changes?

STONE: Well, there has been an increase in demand for affordable housing in the county. We continue to be in one of the worst situations, when it comes to the need for affordable housing, in the state and nationwide.

There has been an increase in the number of cost-burdened and highly cost-burdened residents; if they are overwhelmed by the costs, they spend more than 30% of their income on housing. If they are heavily burdened by costs, they spend more than 50% of their income on housing. The combination of the two represents around 147,000 people, and half of them are heavily burdened by costs.

Is it disproportionately high compared to other places?

Well it is. What is particularly aggravating is that for people with less than moderate incomes, more than 70% of their income is spent on housing and transportation. One of the worst in the country.

According to the new report, less than 13% of all households in Broward County can actually afford to buy a home. What are some of the reasons why?

The problem is simply that the median home price is one of the highest in the country – certainly in the state ($350,000). And the wages here are low.

The report explains how the number of workers in low-wage service jobs is expected to increase. How will this affect the county’s need for more affordable housing?

the [Florida International University] The report cited statistics from the state Department of Economic Opportunity regarding the estimated number of future jobs in Broward over the next eight or nine years. They estimated about 90,000 new jobs.

The majority of these jobs would be service sector jobs, which means they will directly address this need for affordable housing.

Thus, the average rental rate in itself is high. There are higher areas in the country, of course, but when you combine it with this kind of persistent low-wage situation, it adds to what I call “legacy”. We’re adding units every year at a rate of about 1,000, but we have these new requests that keep adding to that.

The other side of the coin is wages, because we are a service economy here. You know, hospitality, retail, food service…that’s what we do here.

Read more: As Broward’s population ages, county faces significant housing and transportation shortages

What steps should the county government take to alleviate this problem of people paying too much of their income for housing or simply not being able to afford housing?

We receive three sources of grants, two from the federal government and one from the state. This provides us with funds to help people buy a home or provide bridge financing to build a new multi-family development.

Here, for the past two years, the Board of County Commissioners has allocated funds from the general fund to supplement these grant sources, which has been very helpful. They’ve allocated $5 million a year for the past two years. We were able to use this top-up funding to build over 600 new units.

For renters and landlords who see this housing crisis and think hope is lost, what would you say to them? Is there an improvement on the horizon?

It’s very frustrating because we get calls almost daily from people looking for affordable housing, both to rent and to buy. And demand is so strong here that the accommodations that become available are usually occupied within a week.

When our new affordable projects open, we may have a brand new 100 unit multi-family project ready for occupancy – usually they are fully leased before we even cut the ribbon, so it gets very frustrating.

That’s why a lot of people pay too much of their income for housing, or they double their income, or they’re with family and friends – and that’s how they meet their housing needs. lodging.

Check out the full report for 2018 from the CRF Metropolitan Center below: