Miami-Dade mayor’s $2.5B bond proposal targets affordable housing

Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava proposes a $2.5 billion bond program for county projects, including affordable housing. 

The “305 Future Ready” borrowing plan would be financed through an existing property tax that already repays county debt, and would require voters’ approval through a referendum, the Miami Herald reported. Levine Cava, who is up for reelection in August, announced the borrowing plan at her State of the County address at Zoo Miami on Wednesday. 

Whether Levine Cava’s proposed borrowing plan would lead to higher property tax bills depends on the pace with which the county issues bonds and on the real estate market. The more property values rise, the more the county would collect with the current tax rate, negating the need for future tax hikes. 

Aside from affordable housing, the bond would target sewer extensions and other county projects, though the mayor didn’t go into specifics. Ultimately, county commissioners would have to approve a spending plan if voters pass the referendum. 

The inclusion of affordable housing as a possible bond project comes amid a crisis in Miami-Dade, which was exacerbated by the influx of out-of-state residents since late 2020. Longtime residents, whose incomes lag those of newcomers, many of whom kept their higher paying out-of-state jobs, have been priced out of the market, with many fleeing elsewhere in the state. 

South Florida led the nation with a record rent jump of 58 percent in the two-year period that ended in March 2022. Since then, rate hikes subsided in September to 2.7 percent, year-over-year, yet high rents achieved during the leasing flurry aren’t expected to drop. Although the influx of newcomers also has slowed, Miami-Dade still was the nation’s “most competitive” apartment market last year. On average, 22 renters vied for one unit, more than the national average of nine renters competing for a unit, according to a RentCafe report. 

Across Miami-Dade, 28,244 affordable and workforce units are in various stages of proposal and construction, according to a county tracker. Nearly 9 percent of those are completed. 

Florida lawmakers last year passed the Live Local Act, which allows developers to bypass local building restrictions and build taller and denser projects if 40 percent of units are set aside as workforce housing. 

Affordable housing developers have seized on south Miami-Dade’s ample supply of buildable land that sells at a discount compared to prime neighborhoods. In Naranja, Atlantic Pacific Companies wants to redevelop the Heritage Village II public housing complex on the northeast corner of Southwest 270th Street and Southwest 142nd Avenue with 116 affordable apartments.
–– Lidia Dinkova

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