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New coalition takes multifaceted approach to creating affordable housing in Miami | Opinion

August 21, 2019
By Alana Greer, Gretchen Beesing and Mileyka Burgos
From The Miami Herald

Clifford Johnson, 61, was homeless. Now the Liberty City native has rebuilt his life and is living at the Hampton Village Apartments in Brownsville, Florida. 

 

Miami-Dade County has an opportunity to turn the tide on our affordable housing crisis, and an informal group of developers and grassroots organizations are ready to make it happen.

After convening at Catalyst Miami, organizing under South Florida Community Development Coalition and working in sub-groups, more than 20 organizations crafted a values statement and agreed to work in tandem to ensure Miami-Dade County and its municipalities adhere to using public land for public good.

The LAND (Land Access for Neighborhood Development) tool, unveiled in March 2019 by the University of Miami and Citi Community Development, reveals more than a half billion square feet of vacant or underutilized county, municipal and institutional land. While not all of it is viable for development, significant swaths can be mobilized to address soaring housing costs, the challenge of sea level rise, the need for green space and community preservation.

The information is similar to what for-profit developers have had for years. The coalition is committed to ensuring that it’s used in ways that open the door to more safe and affordable housing for all Miami-Dade residents.

The desire to seize this opportunity is what brought together affordable-housing advocates, developers and community stakeholders in the spring to develop a set of core values to guide the disposition of publicly owned land. The statement, dubbed “Public Land for Public Good,” defines the goals that use of this available land should further. These include addressing the affordability crisis; minimizing displacement; developing more affordable construction techniques and technologies; prioritizing resiliency and environmental sustainability; greening our community in conjunction with community development plans; preventing climate gentrification; and encouraging transit-oriented development. The statement also addresses how this should happen, highlighting the need for authentic community participation in decision-making and for incorporating equitable development and community benefit policies into land disposition processes in order to ensure equity.

Affordable houses in the city of North Miami for under $400,000, July 19, 2019. By 

 

Last, Public Land for Public Good specifies meaningful interventions, including intergovernmental and inter-institutional collaboration for assemblage of available land parcels; a transparent, equitable and accountable land conveyance process with set-asides for nonprofit and mission-driven developers; an improved permitting process to lower construction costs and speed development timelines; and investment in community control, economic sustainability, and ownership and generational wealth for low-income and communities of color.

The almost two dozen organizations and developers who are the initial signatories of this values statement include: Carrfour Supportive Housing; Catalyst Miami; Centro Campesino; Collective Empowerment Group of South Florida; Community Justice Project; Community Reinvestment Alliance of South Florida; Haitian American Community Development Corporation; Miami Homes For All, Inc.; Miami Workers Center; Neighborhood Housing Services of South Florida; New Urban Development, LLC; Opa-locka Community Development Corporation; South Florida AFL-CIO; South Florida Community Development Coalition; South Florida Community Land Trust; Struggle for Miami’s Affordable and Sustainable Housing (SMASH); The Allapattah Collaborative; CDC; The New Florida Majority; The South Florida Building and Construction Trades Council; University of Miami Office of Civic & Community Engagement; Urban League of Greater Miami; and Urban Philanthropies, Inc.

This broad, community-based support represents a call to action to our public officials and policymakers. It’s also a sign that support is coalescing around the need to achieve concrete progress. Public agencies that own available parcels should cooperate with each other to create larger assemblages that can make a real difference in Miami-Dade’s housing challenges. Our local policymakers should also prioritize passage of legislation that facilitates equitable development, environmental justice and a systemic, restorative rights framework.

The challenge of our housing crisis is big. But our community — as represented by this coalition — is equipped to tackle it, if our public agencies and institutions have the will to do so.

Housing advocacy groups and City of Miami officials released a new report on Monday about the city’s housing crisis. The report identifies specific ways to rescue or build 12,000 affordable homes. By 

 

To read the full Public Land for Public Good values statement or to participate, go to https://bit.ly/30rB2NN.

 

           

Alana Greer is co-founder of the Community Justice Project. Gretchen Beesing is CEO of Catalyst Miami and board chair of the South Florida Community Development Coalition. Mileyka Burgos is founder of The Allapattah Collaborative 

 

Villa Aurora, a 76-unit building in Little Havana, was developed by Carrfour Supportive Housing, which is a member of a new affordable-housing coalition. MIAMI HERALD

 

 

 

 

 

This article originally appeared in Miami Herald.