Condo Boom Leaves Ft. Lauderdale Short in Affordable Housing
New luxury condominium projects continue to come on-line in Ft. Lauderdale. The first sale in the newly completed Palms on Venice was recently closed. A penthouse unit sold for $2,150,000 in the 4-story, 10-unit, 10-boat slip project.
Palms on Venice is at least the 4th new high-end project that has been completed in Ft. Lauderdale since 2011. Cranespotters.com reports that developers have announced plans for 49 more new buildings, 16 of which are already under construction in downtown and on the beach. However, there is a glaring lack of affordable housing in and around Ft. Lauderdale and South Florida. The problem stems from a lack of affordable housing policies.
This is not to say that there are no new affordable housing projects under development. Wisdom Village Crossing recently broke ground in the Sistrunk area of Ft. Lauderdale after obtaining nearly $28 million in financing. The project will consist of 105 rental units and financing includes $100,000 through Broward County’s Home Investment Partnership. Pinnacle at Tarpon River, near the Broward County Courthouse is a 112-unit complex, 100 of which will be designated affordable. The project is under construction using tax credits.
Affordable Housing in Florida is primarily funded through documentary stamp taxes collected on deeds, the “Sadowski” funds. These funds are to go to counties and cities for housing development, construction and rent. Broward County, Ft. Lauderdale, Hollywood, Deerfield Beach and Dania Beach (and many other counties and cities throughout Florida) each have their own Housing Authorities and administer their own programs. However, most, but not all, primarily administer Section 8 programs, providing rent relief to low income families and direct payment to landlords. While an important program, Section 8 is not the only program to solve the lack of affordable housing in any community, particularly a community as diverse as South Florida. Adequate work force housing is necessary to attract people to work for government and to attract companies to relocate to a community. Unfortunately, the Sadowski funds are not sufficient to meet all of these needs and none of the local governments have adopted ordinances or regulations to require private participation in solving the affordable housing problem such as the inclusionary zoning regulations being adopted in New York.
The gap is filled through tax incentive financing like the Pinnacle project and through non-profit agencies. There is no easy answer to this problem. But clearly, the issue must be addressed in partnership between state and local governments, developers and non-profits. Ft. Lauderdale and other communities in South Florida must adopt comprehensive affordable home policies which go beyond “encouraging” developers to include affordable housing components in new projects. Affordable housing is good for every city, it is good for the residents and it is good for business.