Invest: Miami speaks to Michael Wohl, Partner
In Miami-Dade, housing costs, relative to wages, is quite high. Demand for affordable housing continues to rise, but so do the costs of land and construction. Traditionally, affordable housing funds are comprised of federal, state and municipal subsidies. In Miami-Dade County, we have a surtax—an excess tax levied on the sale of land and commercial property— which annually generates between $50 million and $70 million, which can be used to facilitate affordable housing. Another financing vehicle is funds issued through the Local Housing Finance Agency.
Some of our projects are “mixed-income,” comprised of affordable and market-rate housing. Funding from the affordable components covers the costs of building the parking garage, the infrastructure, and much of the construction. Using the savings from that reduced expense, we are able to offer a rent that is below the market rate. For instance, our rents at Brickell View Terrace, a project in West Brickell, will be 25 percent less than the market rate. That project has 100 units of affordable housing and 76 units of market-rate housing. Our Gibson project in Coconut Grove has 56 units, six of which are market-rate. It will provide predominantly senior housing, and also have a school that offers daytime adult education.
We also invest heavily in the public spaces of our projects, installing prominent works of art and incorporating attractive design features. We want to change the public perception of affordable housing, as well as create an attractive community for our residents. Broadly speaking, I think there should be obligations for major developments to provide affordable housing, and these should be enforced. Frankly, I don’t think that major development should go on unless there is an indication that the workforce and the affordable housing needs of that community have been taken care of.