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MIAMI-DADE COUNTY MANAGER ANNOUNCES
AFFORDABLE HOUSING INITIATIVES
(Two memos dated 10/12/05 submitted to County Commission)

On October 12, 2005 Miami-Dade County Manger George Burgess submitted two memorandums on affordable housing to the Mayor and the County Commission as follows:
  • Affordable Housing Strategy Recommendations
  • Property Tax Relief Recommendations
The "EXECUTIVE SUMMARIES" of each memo are quoted below:
First Memo:
Affordable Housing Strategy

1. IMPLEMENT MANDATORY INCLUSIONARY ZONING POLICY: Require developers of larger projects to provide workforce housing units. Developers would be given incentives and density bonuses. Editors Note: CLICK HERE to learn more

2. CREATE COMMUNITY LAND TRUST: Implement a "Community Land Trust" program to provide' a mechanism to mitigate the ever increasing cost of land and its impact on the cost of affordable housing. Through the acquisition and provision of land for development a trust could provide some assurance that as affordable housing is developed it will remain affordable for the long term. Editor's Note: CLICK HERE to learn more about community land trusts

3. IMPLEMENT THE HOUSING PORTION OF THE GOB PROGRAM: The "Building Better Communities" portion of the General Obligation Bond (GOB) program includes $194,997 million to construct and improve affordable housing for elderly and families and to encourage homeownership through the acquisition, construction and renovation of residential units. This total funding allocation is projected to produce up to 1,291 units of affordable housing for elderly and families. Editor's Note: CLICK HERE to go to a County's website with information on the GOB program.

4. ALLOW GREATER DENSITY: Amend CDMP to allow greater density in neighborhoods to provide affordable housing. Upon adoption these CDMP amendments will provide policies for (a) implementation of a mandatory Inclusionary Zoning Policy, (b) the development of strategic areas (along major roadway corridors and at certain major roadway intersections) with higher density residential development, and (c) the development of lots in infill neighborhoods, where previously such lots had been considered too small.  Editor's Note:
CLICK HERE to view FIU study on incentives for removing barriers to redevelopment of poor communities

5. HOUSING LINKAGE PROGRAM: Create a housing linkage program which would require applicable commercial and industrial projects that generate a need for affordable housing to make a monetary contribution to a housing fund to offset the affordable housing impacts created by their workforce. The fund will be managed by the County and utilized to provide affordable and workforce housing units. Editor's Note: CLICK HERE for more information on how linkage programs work

6. DEVELOP AFFORDABLE HOUSING ON COUNTY OWNED LAND: seek joint development opportunities with the private sector to develop affordable housing in conjunction with the development of county-owned property. this effort includes the formation of an interdepartmental work group that will, on an ongoing basis, proactively research, review, and recommend specific opportunities for joint development opportunities involving County land.

7. EXPAND COUNTY'S INFILL HOUSING PROGRAM:  Expand Infill Housing program to include the compilation of a comprehensive list of all vacant lots within the County that are publicly and privately owned. Such a list should be used to identify land that could be acquired for development through foreclosure due to delinquent taxes and/or liens. In addition, we will re-evaluate the performance of agencies involved in the in-fill program and revise procedures to expedite the conveyance of land to organizations that are performing and producing affordable infill housing units on a timely basis. Editor's Note: CLICK HERE for the Coalition's "report card" on the County's Infill Housing Initiative.

8. ENGAGE THE BANKING AND FINANCIAL COMMUNITY: Engage lenders in an ongoing discussion with the Miami- Dade Housing Agency and the Miami-Dade Housing Finance Authority relative to underwriting and credit standards, technology solutions, as well as the development of financial products in an effort to maximize the financing options available to potential first-time homebuyers through conventional and other lenders. This effort could serve to further the leverage provided through the various subsidy programs the County funds to assist home purchasers.  Editor's note: CLICK HERE to view a "whitepaper" submitted to the County by a group of lenders with suggestions on how it can improve the its homeownership loan programs.

9. TAX RELIEF FOR AFFORDABLE HOUSING: Provide tax relief for affordable rental complexes. Such relief that includes reduced property tax valuations will be pursued through the use of land covenants and/or parcel specific deed restrictions between the County and property owners who would pledge to keep existing or new rental units in the affordable or workforce targeted income ranges for a specified number of years into the future. In consideration for such a covenant or deed restriction the valuation of the property for tax purposes would be based on the property specific limitations. State legislative action will be required for this recommendation
Second Memo:
Property Tax Relief

 SENIORS

FREEZE THE ASSESSED VALUATION FOR PROPERTIES WITH SENIOR HOMESTEAD EXEMPTION. This measure would eliminate the authorized `save our homes" annual assessment increase of three (3) percent or the CPI, whichever is less and would provide approximately $60.00 of direct property tax relief for each senior claiming senior homestead exemption based on 2005 tax rates. There would be minimal fiscal impact to County (estimated at $1.3 million). This action requires a constitutional amendment by which three-fifths of the State Legislature House and Senate would need to agree by joint resolution and then submit it to the electors of the state at the next general election.

INCREASE THE MINIMUM HOUSEHOLD INCOME LEVEL TO QUALIFY FOR SENIOR HOMESTEAD EXEMPTION. Increase the annual household income limitation requirement from its current level of approximately $23,260 to $25,000. This measure would enable more seniors to qualify and take advantage of the additional $25,000 homestead exemption. The fiscal impact to the County would be approximately $1.5 million. This action requires a constitutional amendment by which three-fifths of the State Legislature House and Senate would need to agree by joint resolution and then submit it to the electors of the state at the next general election.

DEVELOP A PORTABLE HOMESTEAD EXEMPTION PROGRAM FOR THE SENIORS. This would provide a one-time transfer of the assessed value cap on the present homestead to new "downsized' less expansive replacement home for seniors ages 55 or older or those who have a total or permanent disability. This would allow homeowners the opportunity to "downsize' without incurring a potential increase in property taxes. The fiscal impact of such a proposal would be minimal. This action requires a constitutional amendment by which three-fifths of the State Legislature House and Senate would need to agree by joint resolution and then submit it to the electors of the state at the next general election.

IMPROVE CURRENT HOMESTEAD TAX DEFERRAL PROGRAM FOR SENIORS. This recommendation would reduce the senior age requirement from 70 years of age to 65 and increase the minimum household income level for seniors from $12,000 to equal the minimum household income requirement for senior homestead exemptions (approximately $23,260 today or if it increased, $25,000). By reducing the senior age requirement and increasing the minimum household income level, more seniors will be able to qualify for the tax deferral program. Deferred taxes are secured by a lien on the property held by the County and in this sense, the program functions as a loan to be repaid with interest once taxes become due and payable. The fiscal impact would not result in the elimination of tax revenues, but rather a delay in the payment of taxes (annual cash How). This action requires statutory amendment (not a Constitutional amendment).

RENTERS

ENCOURAGE THE RETENTION AND PROVISION OF AFFORDABLE RENTAL HOUSING THROUGH LOWER TAX VALUATIONS by the adoption of a measure that would enable the Property Appraiser to prepare lower tax valuations for affordable rental housing properties. Lower tax valuations result from recorded restrictive covenants (or other legally sufficient means) limiting the use of the rental property to affordable housing for a predefined period of years. The measure would reduce the possibility of affordable rental housing owners converting their properties to market rentals or condominiums by encouraging owners of affordable rental housing to voluntarily limit the use of their properties by recorded restrictive covenant (or other legally sufficient means). This measure can be implemented at the County or municipal level.

FIRST-TIME HOMEBUYERS

IMPLEMENT A THREE YEAR PROPERTY TAX PHASE-IN FOR FIRST-TIME HOME BUYERS. This measure would provide for full assessment of qualified properties for property taxes; however, in year one, two-thirds of taxes due would be waived; in year two, one-third of taxes would be waived; in year three, there would be no waiver of taxes. This action requires a constitutional amendment by which three-fifths of the State Legislature House and Senate would need to agree by joint resolution and then submit it to the electors of the state at the next general election.

OTHER TAX RELIEF AREAS

INCREASE THE WIDOW, WIDOWER, & DISABILITY EXEMPTION TO $5,000. This would provide a meaningful tax savings to those homeowners who qualify for this exemption. This action requires a constitutional amendment by which three-fifths of the State Legislature House find Senate would need to agree by joint resolution and then submit it to the electors of the state at the next general election.