South Florida Collective Combats Gentrification in Palm Beach

South Florida Collective Combats Gentrification in Palm Beach

By: Sara Warden


2 min read November 2019 — As the 2018 federal tax code kicks into effect, capping deductibility of state and local taxes, demand has skyrocketed for luxury real estate in low-taxing states such as Florida. In the third quarter of 2019, the median price for a luxury home in Palm Beach tripled on the year to $21 million compared with $7.7 million in the same quarter of 2018.

As luxury house prices increase, single family and condo prices are also going up, according to a report by real estate appraisers Miller Samuel. In 3Q19, average sales prices for a condo reached $418,849, up 4.4% on 3Q18, and for a single family home the average price was $11.4 million, up 121.6% on the year. Tellingly, average price per square foot was up across the board, at $1,468/ft2 for a single family home during the quarter compared with $1,363/ft2.

The area is quickly gentrifying, with the Virgin Trains USA express service that runs through the county also pulling up house prices and pushing down affordability. In this environment, creating affordable housing for the residents of Palm Beach becomes ever more pressing. Now, the public and private sectors are joining forces to take action and create the South Florida Housing Link Collaborative, an ambitious affordable housing project. 

The project will target the route of the Brightline, deploying a $5 million investment by JP Morgan Chase to upgrade existing units and build new, more affordable accommodation. “Transport is the biggest expense after housing,” said Mandy Bartle, executive director of the South Florida Community Land Trust (SFCLT), to the Miami Herald. “We decided to hone in on this corridor because the people who most need public transit are a lot of the folks who already live in these areas near the railway and are the most likely to get pushed out by gentrification.”

As well as the $5 million in direct investment in the project, it is expected to garner $75 million in external capital from both the public and private sectors. Joining the SFCLT is the Community Land Trust of Palm Beach County, nonprofit Enterprise Community Partners, Florida Community Loan Fund, and the Solar and Energy Loan Fund (SELF). SELF provides small loans to homeowners for solar energy or hurricane-resilience technologies, providing $10 million worth of loans in their 10 years in business.

Duanne Andrade, the chief financial officer at SELF, said in an interview with Next City that those living on the path of new transit projects are often the most vulnerable to gentrification. Cindee LaCourse-Blum, executive director of the Palm Beach County CLT, added that climate change compounds the problem. 

“Housing and transportation eats up the majority of incomes in Palm Beach County, in addition to the risks that we are seeing with climate change and sea-level rise and a lot of people coming back into the urban corridor and gentrifying those neighborhoods,” she said to the same publication. “What I’m hoping to see is that residents of these communities have access to safe, affordable, resilient housing, and they’re not pushed out of their neighborhoods.”


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Tackling Affordable Housing in the Bay

Tackling Affordable Housing in the Bay

Writer: Max Crampton-Thomas

2 min read August 2019   Growth in the Tampa Bay region has been twofold, with a  significant boom in the economy and the population. As the population grows so does the need for more affordable housing options in the region. While there has been a notable increase in the development of luxury apartments and multifamily units, which are popping up all over Downtown, there is a notable deficit of affordable housing options. Mayor Jane Castor, her administration and community organizations like the Tampa Housing Authority recognize that they must work together to find- a solution for this problem.

Since her election in April, Mayor Castor has identified access to affordable housing solutions as one of her top priorities, as noted when she spoke with Invest:. “In reality, the most pressing issues in our community are transportation, affordable housing and workforce development.” She has since taken action to address the housing issue with the recent formation of the Affordable Housing Advisory Team as part of her “Transforming Tampa’s Tomorrow” transition. The role of the advisory team will be to ensure home ownership for all residents in Tampa regardless of economic status. It  will be one of five advisory teams guiding the mayor’s strategic vision for addressing key issues in Tampa Bay. 

One of the members of the Affordable Housing Advisory Team is Leroy Moore, the senior vice resident and chief operating officer for the Tampa Housing Authority. The Authority is not only focused on providing housing assistance to low-income residents. Its role has evolved over the years to better address the affordable housing issue in the region. Invest: recently spoke with Moore, who discussed how the Authority is addressing this need. “The Housing Authority has evolved to not only manage affordable housing, but also to redevelop this housing into real estate that functions as more than just a roof over someone’s head. We consistently ask ourselves what else does a community need? A community needs jobs, quality food and transportation accessibility, which brings in the need for collaboration with transportation agencies in the region. We can meet the needs of the community by developing housing, especially affordable and attainable housing, around accessible transit options. Great transit translates into better housing costs.” 

The Authority’s actions to tackle affordable housing include the redevelopment of a 28-acre superblock of public housing that will be known as the Encore District. In his discussion with Invest:, Moore spoke about the Authority’s approach to this development and how it differs from the original construction., “Seventy-five years ago, the Tampa Housing Authority developed a 28-acre superblock of public housing on the doorstep of what is now Downtown. Seventy-five years later, we are redeveloping that site and realizing that its potential today is far greater than what was ever imagined back then. Instead of just having a 28-acre single-use affordable housing community, we now have 12 city blocks of diverse development called the Encore District.” He continued: “Encore will be a LEED Gold neighborhood development community. All the buildings have a commitment to be LEED Silver or higher. We replaced the affordable and workforce housing and increased the number of affordable units on that exact same footprint. We are also adding other uses like hotels, museums, schools, market-rate housing and grocery stores all within the same 28-acre area.”

The need for more affordable housing is not an issue that will resolve itself and will only continue to manifest into a larger challenge as the population in Tampa Bay grows. The solution is not clear-cut, but community leaders like Mayor Castor and Moore are working to find actionable answers.  

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