Affordable Housing Crisis Put In Focus

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Broward County’s affordable housing crisis has been years in the making, and solving it may take even longer. During their meeting on July 25, Wilton Manors city commissioners were briefed on how dire the situation has become.

Ralph Stone, Broward’s Director of Housing Finance and Dr. Ned Murray of FIU, laid out the Broward County Affordable Housing Master Plan Update. When it was first published, last autumn, the median sale price of a home was $565,000 (it has since jumped above $600,000), making homeownership unaffordable for 92% of county residents.

The news is no better for renters. Broward is last in Florida for available affordable rental units, with only 25 for each 100 families.

In a county of about two million people and many municipalities, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Even in a city as small as Wilton Manors, it will take a multi-prong approach.

The report shows the city needs about 1800 affordable housing units. That’s a tough ask for a city of only about 12,000 people. Stone acknowledged the number seems overwhelming and suggested breaking it down into increments. If the city builds 90 affordable units a year for 10 years, that’s 900 units and a halfway mark.

“In the case of Wilton Manors, we’ve sat for hours with [city staff] talking through the problem from a Wilton perspective,” Stone said. “It is a multipronged approach. There’s probably a menu of two dozen items that can bring something to the table.”

Grants, tax incentives, subsidies, and more are tried and true options. If a developer doesn’t want to include affordable housing in a project, they can pay a steep fee that goes toward alleviating housing insecurity. Commissioners were open to the idea, but said any requirement should be county wide. Otherwise, a developer will go a couple miles to a city without the financial penalty.

Mayor Scott Newton, who’s lived in Wilton Manors all his life, has heard much of this before, and his frustration was evident. 

“We’re 25 years behind the ball. All we do is talk, talk, talk. If you don’t force [developers] to do something, they’re not gonna do it.”

Jacob Reide Jennings leads the Sherlock's Homes Foundation, a non-profit addressing LGBTQ+ youth housing insecurity. He said a big obstacle is reaching people who need help.

“The biggest population is called ‘the hidden homeless.’ People who are couch-surfing, staying in cars or with family while they get on their feet.”

County housing officials have had dozens of similar meetings, and will use the input to help put together a long-term plan. The consensus is that while it won’t be easy, but it must be done.


Phone: 954-514-7095
Hours: Monday - Friday 9AM - 2PM


2520 N. Dixie Highway,
Wilton Manors, FL 33305



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