The Housing Crisis Didn’t Just Happen, It Was Created

Affordable Housing Matters

We didn’t just end up in the housing crisis; we’ve always been there. Based on the lack of progress and widespread inequities when it comes to access to housing, we’ve actually been there far too long.

The type of housing that we stand in need of now, is practically the same housing we marched for in the 1960s. Back then, leaders and civil rights groups joined together to demand housing that was safe, decent and affordable. And, as a result of their efforts, in 1968 the Fair Housing Act was passed.

Sadly, as we approach the act’s 50th anniversary, we really can’t say much has gotten any better for us.

“We should be angry that still in America, we’re still fighting for things that are supposed to be for all Americans,” said U.S. Senator Cory Booker at last week’s National Housing Policy Forum in Washington, D.C.

Even with the creation of Metro-Miami Action Plan (MMAP) back in 1983 now known as Miami-Dade Economic Advocacy Trust (MDEAT), we’re still struggling to find affordable housing.

MDEAT claims to “make it easier for prospective homeowners to qualify for a mortgage,” but we are priced-out, left out and unable to secure a mortgage or an affordable place to live.

If policymakers would have been more deliberate in their efforts as it relates to housing and growing the local economy, we probably wouldn’t be in a crisis. Especially since they have known about our critical housing shortages for more than 10 years now. More should have been done a very long time ago.
It seems like our elected officials are just buying time until the next housing report comes out, stalling in committees or just waiting to term-out, hoping for things to just get better all of a sudden.
People must have a place to live

Many of the inequities that still exist in our communities stem from the lack of availability of affordable housing. When the basic need of adequate shelter is unmet, trying to make a decent living here and still remain a productive and upright resident is challenging. This is why housing ought to be a top priority of all commissioners and mayors through sponsored legislation, funding and meaningful commitment, not just at forums or during campaigns.

If we had the housing oversight committee approved along with residents and civil rights organizations appointed to the Affordable Housing Advisory Board, things may be different. But instead we have developers running the show, building what they want for who they want, and we’re the ones left without a place to call home. Then we have those who “make it” focus more on the type of people in need and not the real problem. They say things such as “pull yourself up by your own bootstraps.” Stop it! What would really help are job opportunities that pay a living wage and more access to training and development.

Solutions for a stronger housing market
What would help to move housing forward in South Florida and solve the crisis is the political will, funding, commitment and action. This can start by activating vacant and idle lots and turning them into affordable living spaces. And since most businesses already received a tax break, bring those employers on board and get them more involved in housing solutions; it would help their employees and our communities overall.

Another solution is establishing a comprehensive strategic plan for our housing needs with a timeline, let both residents and developers know that policymakers are serious and care about community development. We’ve made some mandates for affordable housing developers, but they should also be extended to private investors and homebuilders such as D.R. Horton and Lennar. This takes innovation as well as implementation in both the rental and homeownership markets. If we had those things in place, the access and availability of housing and would have improved by now — not the reverse.

Meanwhile, residents should keep an account of all those in office or who are running for office, and how they vote or advocate for housing. If they are not working toward a housing agenda or a clear strategy towards economic development, they really shouldn’t get our votes or continued support.

Are you priced-out of living in South Florida? Got a suggestion? Let’s hear about it! Share your story, interest or solution today.
Contact Daniella Pierre to affordablehousingmatters@gmail.com