Housing Summit 2017

Housing Summit 2017Solutions for increasing Attainable Housing in Palm Beach County

By Sammy Alzofon

There is a housing crisis in Palm Beach County. The current median gross rent of $1,900 is unaffordable for 80 percent of renters and 75 percent of households do not have adequate income to buy a single-family home at the current median price of $327,00. Housing Summit 2017 is the starting point for a convening of interest groups to find solutions.

A coalition of interest groups came together at the Palm Beach County Convention Center on Wednesday, May 31, to discuss both the challenges  and possible solutions for assuring long-term access to affordable and accessible housing in Palm Beach County.  This issue has reached a level of crisis, as reflected in the 500 who attended (and there was a waiting list).  

Attendees represented private, public, and nonprofit organizations, and all agreed that the future of the county’s economic and social well-being demands a collective commitment. Many workers in the county must travel long distances to work and, in many cases, pay more than half their income for housing and transportation. When employers can no longer attract a desirable workforce due to the high cost of living in the county, there is a direct threat to the economic growth of the county.

The Summit, brought together by County Administrator Verdenia Baker,  featured panels which focused on:

  • outlining the expansion of housing options
  • creating a sustainability of housing that meets county growth
  • detailing the broad financial issues underlying this investment and its sustainability
  • presenting the policy formulation necessary to create an environment in which county-wide affordable housing can happen

The panelists represented the areas of housing, banking, building, and government. Each presented ideas based on broad knowledge and experience in effecting change.

Dr. Ned Murray, from Florida International University’s Metropolitan Center, gave an historical perspective, as well as provided the numbers* that so dramatically illuminated the problem. The keynote speaker, Henry Cisneros, former Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in the Bill Clinton administration, delivered the keynote address, which described our county as one of many caught in the framework of today’s difficult national experience, At the same time, however, the overall message was one of hope and optimism for the future.

Housing Summit 2017

*Dr. Murray’s key economic and housing market factors combined with White Paper numbers include: Significant year-over-year median and average sales price increases for both condos and single-family homes. In 2010 a single-family home median sales price was $237,984 and condominiums were $82,000. Numbers for 2016 are $316,915 and $126,000 respectively.