In Miami, a Housing Affordability Crisis

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Miami faces a severe crisis of housing unaffordability, reinforcing the region’s high level of economic inequality, according to a new Miami Urban Future Initiative (MUFI) report, Miami’s Housing Affordability Crisis, authored by urbanist Richard Florida and Steven Pedigo.

In a data-driven report, Florida and Pedigo examine the scope of Miami’s housing affordability crisis: the ways it affects different class, racial, and ethnic groups, homeowners and renters, and other key dimensions of housing in Miami.

Miami is no stranger to housing challenges. The metro was among the hardest hit by the economic crisis of 2008. Thousands lost their homes, while thousands more lost significant amounts of equity in their properties,” explained Florida. “As housing prices rebounded, and even surpassed their pre-recession highs in many areas, wages and incomes have failed to keep pace. The result is a crisis of housing affordability that affects far too many Miamians.”

Key insights about Miami’s housing challenges include:

  • Miami faces a deep crisis of housing unaffordability. Housing is unaffordable for too many Miamians. Six in 10 employed adult residents of Miami are housing cost-burdened, meaning they spend more than 30 percent of their incomes on housing—the highest rate of any large metro in the nation. And low-income service workers, who make up more than half of the region’s workforce, bear the greatest burden of all.
  • Racial minorities face the steepest crisis of housing unaffordability. African-American homeowners have, on average, less than $4000 of income left over after paying for their housing each year. And Hispanic homeowners have less than $5,500 left over after paying for housing. Compare this to the nearly $20,000 ($19,685) that white homeowners have left over after paying for housing.
  • The region’s housing affordability crisis is geographically concentrated. Miami’s housing affordability crisis varies sharply across neighborhoods. High-income households are packed along the region’s coastline, where housing values are the highest, and there are also pockets of advantage in affluent inland suburbs. Huge disadvantaged areas with extraordinary housing cost burdens are sandwiched in between.
  • Despite all the construction cranes downtown, Miami faces an acute crisis of affordable housing. The Miami region is building expensive condos—in fact, it’s building a surplus of them—but is not producing nearly enough affordable and workforce housing to fulfill demand.
  • Climate change and sea-level rise compound Miami’s housing crisis. Mounting threats from climate change and sea-level rise will only accentuate the region’s housing affordability crisis over time. Rising sea levels may make parts of the region uninhabitable, which will put greater pressure on the region’s remaining housing stock.

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