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 non-sustainability of these 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 50% of their income for housing. Today, while housing prices have receded, home ownership is still unattainable for much 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 continue to live in auto-oriented communities that are fairly remote from existing job centers. This has resulted in a lack of economic integration and high household housing-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 inbalance in housing values and incomes and the lack of housing choice, especially near well-paying jobs. Our solution is a regional affordable housing plan, 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 opportunities, services, and other basic needs by workers via multiple transportation options at lower costs. When implemented, the plan 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.
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