County overwhelmed by demand for subsidized housing, official says
By Dan Dolan
Miami-Dade has 41,386 families waiting for subsidized housing – and will never be able to help them all, the county's new housing czar said last week.
And the staggering number on the official waiting list is far lower than the actual number who need public housing aid, said Housing Agency Director Kris Warren, who has been running the scandal-scarred department less than two weeks.
In truth, she said, the county has no real way to measure the problem. Its waiting list is only opened to new applicants once every two years, she said. The current figures are at least 12 months old.
"Honestly, the agency will never have enough dollars to meet the need," said Ms. Warren, who had been the Tampa Housing Authority's chief operating officer. "We don't have enough money or units. Our housing stock is old. We're working with reduced budgets and receiving less outside aid."
Faced with diminishing resources, the county is fighting uphill to make sure its existing 10,000 public housing units – home to at least 40,000 people – provide decent, safe and sanitary shelter, Ms. Warren said. Another 26,000 families get vouchers to help them rent in privately owned units, she said.
County commissioners, including incoming Chairman Bruno A. Barreiro, said last week low- and moderate-income housing will be the focus of major initiatives next year. The commission is expected to extend the life of its Affordable Housing Ad Hoc Committee, which expires Dec. 31, for at least another year.
Meanwhile, Commissioner Barbara Jordan has sponsored a test to allow developers to build more units on a site in return for providing low-cost housing. Next month, the commission is expected to adopt her plan and one by Commissioner Joe A. Martinez to give 100 working families forgivable $80,000 home loans.