The Southeast Florida region has been hit hard by the burst of the housing bubble that pushed housing prices up beyond the reach of most homebuyers. Despite the unsustainability of those prices, all projections indicate that housing affordability, even with the dip in prices, likely will remain a major regional issue given the concurrent drop in household incomes. Rental costs for affordable units continue to be above national standards resulting in the region having the highest percentage of residents paying more than 5O% of their income for housing.
Today, while housing prices have receded, home ownership is still unattainable for that portion of the workforce which is primarily of low- and moderate income. Affordable rental units are still scarce and a significant distressed inventory of foreclosed and abandoned homes continues to skew the market. Many residents live in auto-oriented communities that are fairly remote from existing job centers. This has resulted in a lack of economic opportunities, services, and other basic needs of workers via multiple transportation options at lower costs. Implementing such strategies will contribute to a lower combined cost of housing and transportation; help foster more open space and safeguard rural landscapes; and reduce traffic congestion, greenhouse gas emissions, and the use of foreign oil. Additional benefits include but are not limited to, improved air quality; an increase in safe, walkable neighborhoods and improved public health; increased energy conservation; and revitalized community centers with enhanced ties between diverse populations.
One solution developed as part of the Seven50 process are regional affordable housing strategies, tied to more mixed-use, mixed-income, and mixed-housing type development near existing and planned transit options, that better connects safe and affordable housing with employment centers and educational integration and high household housing and transportation costs that places an additional burden on lower income residents. The region must plan to work collaboratively to address the more systemic problems caused by the inequity in housing values and incomes and the lack of housing choice, especially near well-paying jobs.
Regional Findings: Vacancy rates above 30 percent are observed across the entire region, but almost entirely along the coast. It should be noted that units are counted as vacant if they are habitable and are second homes or available for sale or rent. South Florida is not retaining year-round residents, at potential economic detriment.
County and Local Findings: Notably, every census tract in Monroe County, except for downtown Key West, exhibits a 30 per- cent or higher vacancy rate. Further inland, small areas with vacancy rates above 20 percent can be found north of Vero Beach, in the vicinity of the St. Lucie County Airport, Dania Beach, north Miami-Dade County, and Homestead.
Household Composition: Families with a Single Parent Regional
Findings: From Indian River to Miami-Dade counties, single parent households comprise 10 percent or more of house- holds in a substantial number of census tracts. Concentrations of such households are found in the Belle Glade area, from West Palm Beach south to Boynton Beach, and from Parkland south to North Miami. This represents a geographic reach covering much of the three-county MSA.
County and Local Findings: Only a few census tracts register a concentration of single parent households above 30 percent of total households-these are located in the vicinity of West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale and Kendall.
Household Composition: Households with Children
Regional Findings: Across the region, approximately 718,800 households have children (representing a total of 31.7 percent
of total households). Census tracts with the largest proportion of such households compared to the overall count are located
almost entirely along the western edge of the urban growth boundary in the three-county MSA.
County and Local Findings: The cities of Belle Glade, Parkland, and Weston, and the exurban region west of Miami Lakes, each contain census tracts in which households with children make up more than 60 percent of total local households.
Household Composition: Households with Senior Citizens
Regional Findings: Census tracts in which households containing persons 65 years of age or more represent more than 40 percent of total households are found in every county but especially in the northern half of the region (Indian River through Palm Beach counties). Their total number is similar to that of households with children-694,600 households, or 30.6 percent of the total count.
County and Local Findings: Areas with the least number of such households tend to be located on the western side of the MSA corridor (including the cities of Weston, Pembroke Pines, and Miramar) and the downtown districts of Miami and Fort Lauderdale.
Affordability Gap for Renters Regional
Findings: Throughout much of the three-county MSA, an affordability gap exists for renting households. The average gap amount is generally less than $500 per month, although in 24 census tracts (including 10 each in Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties), the gap amount exceeds $500.
County and Local Findings: Coastal and western urban boundary census tracts largely exhibit no affordability gap. For renting households, Indian River, Martin, and Monroe counties have the best affordability prospects.
Cost Burden: mortgage-Holders Spending 30% or more of In- come on Housing Costs
Regional Findings: Census tracts throughout the entire region show a high percentage of cost-burdened owner-occupying households, distributed evenly from west to east across the three counties of the MSA. Somewhat fewer cost burdened households are located in Indian River, St. Lucie, and Martin counties. Notably, Key West has the lowest percentage of burdened households of any major city in the region.
County and Local Findings: The counties with the largest percentage of census tracts containing cost-burdened homeowners are Broward and Miami-Dade. In both of them, the number of census tracts in which 3O percent or more of homeowners spend more than 3O percent of their income on housing approaches two out of five (39.9 percent in Broward and 38.9 percent in Miami-Dade). Local areas in each county, however, show similar patterns, including Vero Beach, Juno Beach, Wellington, Weston, North Bay Village, and Key Largo.
Cost Burden: renters Spending 30% or more of Income on Housing Costs
Regional Findings: In the majority of census tracts across the region, at least 40 percent of renting households spend more than 30 percent of their household income to cover rent payments. Throughout the three-county MSA, 56.5 percent of census tracts with renting households have more than 60 percent of those households spending above the 30 percent threshold. Those census tracts with the lowest share of renters paying above the threshold are not concentrated in any geographic location, in- stead being rather randomly distributed across all seven counties.
County and Local Findings: Geographically, much of Miami-Dade and Monroe counties experience significant rental cost burdens (60 percent or more of renting households affected), with Bro- ward and Palm Beach counties only somewhat less affected. Very few census tracts anywhere in the region contain renting households whose cost-burden proportion is below 20 percent.
Affordable Housing: Percentage of LIHTC Units as Share of Total Regional
Findings: Across Southeast Florida, 161 census tracts contain Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) housing units, with representation in each county. The majority of tracts are located either in the middle of the MSA corridor or near the largest cities of the non-MSA counties.
County and Local Findings: Local areas with LIHTC housing units include Sebastian and Vero Beach, Indian River County; north of Port St. Lucie in St. Lucie County; Belle Glade and West Palm Beach in Palm Beach County; Pompano Beach in Broward County; North Miami, Opalocka, and Homestead in Miami-Dade County; and Key West in Monroe County.
Affordable Housing: LIHTC Qualified Census Tract Status Regional
Findings: 2S8 Qualified Census Tracts (QCTs) are distributed throughout the region, with the large majority of them (244) are in the three-county MSA. The region’s QCTs tend to be located either in the western, exurban half of the region or along the middle of the MSA corridor.
County and Local Findings: Local concentrations, featuring contiguous groups of QCTs, are located in and around Belle Glade, West Palm Beach, Pompano Beach, Lauderdale Lakes/Fort Lauderdale, and Miami/Hialeah.
Access to a Supermarket: Proximity by Census Tract
Regional Findings: Most census tracts in the region are reasonably close to a supermarket offering fresh and healthful foods. The ones that are not are distributed throughout six of the seven counties (Martin County excluded) and without any particular pattern. The geographic share of Monroe County not located reasonably close to a supermarket is larger than the other counties.
County and Local Findings: Palm Beach County has the largest number of LSA (limited supermarket access) census tracts, with 55 of the region’s 169 qualifying tracts. Miami-Dade County is a close second, with 54, followed by Broward County with 43. Geographically, the largest areas without supermarket proximity are in the middle keys and the vicinity of Sugarloaf Key in Monroe County, Belle Glade and the rural wedge between the Jim Corbett Wildlife Management Area and the Loxahatchee Slough in Palm Beach County, and the vicinity south of Vero Beach between Indian River and St. Lucie counties.
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