Housing prices are rising. Wages aren't. The combination makes South Florida worst in the nation for overburdening families with housing costs, local officials say.
Broward housing experts said the statistics are shocking, and must be addressed.
Home prices in Fort Lauderdale are $155,000 higher than a median-income family can afford, county officials said. Just two years ago, the gap was much lower, at $49,000.
Lauderhill, where home prices are lower than in some other Broward cities, still has a gap of $48,000 between what the typical family can afford and the actual prices on the for-sale signs.
Ralph Stone, director of the Broward Housing Finance and Community Development Division, said the gap has risen dramatically in just two years.
"We now have seven cities that have six-figure gaps," he told city and county leaders this week, as they met to grapple with the problem.
Those cities: Coral Springs, Davie, Deerfield Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Pembroke Pines, Plantation and Weston.
A 2012 study by the Center for Housing Policy found that the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach metropolitan area led the nation in working households considered severely burdened by housing costs because they're spending so much of their income on rent or mortgages.
The demand for affordable rentals by low-income Broward residents compared with the supply is stunning as well, Stone said.
There were 55,388 low-income households in the county seeking affordable rentals in 2011, but only 9,680 rentals.
At the same time, Broward County has extremely limited funds to address the problem. Federal and state grants have decreased over the past seven years. This year, the county will have just $5 million — $3.6 million of which it will share with cities.
That leaves the county with $1.4 million to spend on affordable housing strategies.
"When we think back to the magnitude of the problem," Stone said, "it's almost laughable what we're dealing with [in funding]."
County and city officials this week said they'd like to work together on new affordable-housing regulations, which they expect to roll out in the coming months. The rules in general will only apply to large developments of 100 units or more.
There is disagreement, though, about when government should intervene, and how.
Should developers be required to include under-priced, affordable units in each development? Should the requirement be waived if a developer is building in a depressed area?
Should developers of commercial property be required to pay into an affordable-housing fund, like they do in Coconut Creek, because of the housing need they're creating?
Broward Commissioner Dale Holness said if a developer wants to build luxury houses — "or any kind of building" — in economically depressed northwest Fort Lauderdale, for example, affordable housing requirements should be waived because the neighborhood already has enough low-priced housing.
"For God's sake, let them do it," he said of the developers. "Don't stop them."
Broward County Commissioner Tim Ryan said the question of where to apply the requirements is key.
© 2014 Sun-Sentinel
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