News ArchivesInfoFaxAffordable FinanceInitiativesNonprofit Resourcesresearchmainpage
Infill Housing Initiative
For Miami-Dade County Distressed Neighborhoods

This Initiative consists of ideas for an integrated infill housing development strategy for the mostdistressed census tracts in Miami-Dade County. Leadership for the Initiative must be provided by the Miami-Dade County and the City of Miami's Department of Community Development. The Initiative can succeeded, however, only if a true spirt of partnership evolves between local government, private sector developers (both nonprofit and for profit) and neighborhood residents. The components of the Initiative, collectively, must add up to a systematic attack on the barriers that are inhibiting normal market driven development. Bits and pieces of the Initiative are already in place there are major gaps and there is no integrated vision.

What is a "Distressed Census Tract":

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, a "distressed" census track is one that has a 40%+ poverty rate . These tracks are concentrated in the following communities: Little Haiti, West Little River, East Little Havana, Model Cities (including Liberty City, Edison, and Brownsville Opa Locka, Overtown, Wynwood, and Allahpattah. Geographically, these neighborhoods cone out from downtown northward towards the Broward County line. They are primarily African American but have significant Haitian communities and mixed Hispanic populations.

Why Focus on These Neighborhoods? Consider the following .

Lack of Market Based Development Opportunities:

For-profit developers will not go into these neighborhoods without incentives. Basic issues of financial feasibility prevent the private sector from taking on ventures in these low income neighborhoods. Barriers include: decrepit infrastructure (sewers, water, etc.), low appraised values, high costs of development, high costs of land, expensive "brownfield" cleanup, expensive lien clearance, high relocation expenses, the difficulty of dealing with the patchwork pattern of real estate ownership. Local government inadvertently imposes additional costs by its unnecessarily cumbersome construction approval process. Yet there ARE underutilized opportunities, mainly, the large number of vacant lots that could be land banked relatively cheaply and the availability of significant subsided permanent financing. Developers could make money building houses and businesses if the barriers where mitigated. Simply put, the private sector does not find opportunities here because it is simply too difficult and costly to do so profitably.

The Goal:

The goal of the Initiative is to accelerate the development of new housing in the distressed census tracts as part of a comprehensive community revitalization strategy for those neighborhoods.

The Challenge:

Developers have difficulty finding market opportunities in older low income neighborhoods. Redevelopment efforts in these neighborhoods is risky considering that they are forsaken areas that the local government has neglected and which often lack sufficient infrastructure. Conservative financial institutions will not participate unless the risk can be reduced. For the smaller-scale developers without the deep pockets and for the nonprofits, financial assistance is needed to cover the extraordinary costs associated with redevelopment. Redevelopment often involves demolition, clearing title, assembling land, cleaning up brownfields, relocating residents or businesses, and correcting infra- structure deficiencies. A primary reason why the private sector has not engaged in this type of redevelopment has been that the projected cost of production for unsubscribed ventures exceeds the appraised value of the end product (this happens when there are no neighborhood comparables of equal value). Obviously a lender will not finance a project when the equation is out of balance. The nonprofit organizations and other builders of small-scale affordable housing can fill a demand in the market in which the most for-profit developers are not interested. To be successful, those smaller-scale developers need financial assistance to remedy site-specific infrastructure problems, along with the other exceptional costs of developing and retrofitting within urban areas,

The Ingredients of Success:

The Initiative must consist of a well focused set of interrelated programs that will dramatically increase production of infill units in Brownsville and similar neighborhoods. Create new create a partnership between local government and nonprofit sector developers to dramatically increase the construction of new home ownership units that are affordable to low and moderate income families. To be successful the initiative must address specific barriers that inhibit market driven housing development activities. These include: