On December 20, 2016, the Miami-Dade County Board of County Commissioners approved an Ordinance proposed by Commissioner Barbara Jordan that provides incentives for builders to offer workforce housing units in new developments within the County. The Ordinance addresses the oft-discussed countywide housing affordability crisis by motivating developers to set aside units for families earning 60 percent to 140 percent of the County’s $48,100 median income.
Commissioner Jordan explained that the purpose of the Ordinance is to provide housing units to police officers, teachers, millennials entering the workforce, and other individuals with similar incomes so that they can live closer to the workplace. Consequently, shorter driving commutes for individuals living closer to their jobs benefit the County as a whole. Shorter commutes translate into decreased traffic congestion, promote neighborhood diversity, and help local employers attract and retain good employees.
Important provisions within the Ordinance include:
- Developers that build 20 units or more and set aside 5 percent of the units for lower-income residents will be awarded a 5 percent density bonus. The more units devoted to workforce housing, the higher the density bonus.
- A quarter of all workforce housing units should target the low-end of the income spectrum, accommodating families that earn 60 percent to 79 percent of the County’s median income. Half of the workforce housing units developed under this new incentive program should target people that earn 80 percent to 110 percent of the County’s median income.
- Each city within the County must assess its own workforce housing needs and deliver a plan to address each need to the County by June 30, 2017. If a city decides to implement a voluntary or mandatory workforce housing rule, it has until December 31, 2017, to launch a workforce housing program. Cities with a population under 10,000 are exempt from this requirement.
Commissioner Jordan’s workforce housing plan was not always incentive-driven. Her initial proposal was a mandatory program that required developers to either include workforce housing units in new market-rate projects or to pay into a trust fund devoted to workforce and affordable housing development. The initial proposal was opposed by the Latin Builders Association and the Builders Association of South Florida, as each argued that such a mandatory structure would disrupt development and cause other unintended consequences. It is the hope of the Commission that the adopted incentive-driven program will result in the creation of much-needed workforce housing for individuals who work in Miami-Dade County.