In 2005, the Economic Council of Palm Beach County formed a work group to begin studying the issue to determine the future impact the lack of affordable housing would have on the economy and the long-term viability of our community.
A technical advisory committee was formed and over the course of the next year, a study was commissioned by the Metropolitan Center at Florida International University. By this point in time the affordable housing issue was reaching crisis proportions but when The Workforce Housing Needs Assessment was released in July of 2006, the depth and severity of the problem came as a shock to even those who had been tracking the issue for a number of years.
As a result of this study and extensive strategic planning efforts, the Economic Council’s Affordable Housing Taskforce developed goals and objectives to begin addressing this issue, which included the formation of committees including:
- Education, Communications and Institution Building
- Public Policy/Land Acquisition
- Employer Assisted Housing
The transition from a volunteer initiative to an organization dedicated to workforce/affordable housing was completed in the first quarter of 2007 with the hiring of the President & CEO, the selection of a full board made up of community and business leaders and the granting of the 501(c)(3) status by the IRS. Since 2007 The Housing Leadership Council has been working on important collaborative efforts that will make sure we address the current issues of stabilizing neighborhoods and a future goal of making sure we have an adequate supply of workforce housing in our community once the housing market has recovered.
OVER A DECADE OF ACCOMPLISHMENTS…
Documenting the Need
The HLC has provided major housing studies and updates since 2007. These studies have documented the state of housing including the shortage of units, unaffordability of existing units and cost burden for the majority of our workforce. The HLC also conducted a study of employers which determined housing was one of the major factors in a business’s relocation decisions.
Raising Funds for Housing Initiatives
The HLC helped form the consortium and write the grant application that resulted in $23.3 Million award used to stabilize and revitalize the housing in Lake Worth Florida. The HLC also did monitoring that resulted in the award being spent on-time with no finding or concerns from federal monitors. This initiative provided 100 for sale units for homeowners and 70 affordable rental units.
The HLC was instrumental in developing and funding the South Florida CLT Network which brings together the efforts of all our area Community Land Trusts. The group was awarded one of only ten grants nationwide offered by NCB Capital, the Social Innovation Fund and Ford Foundation to assist with capacity building and bringing this model to scale in South Florida. There are currently over 300 units under management in Palm Beach County.
Reducing Barriers to Affordable Housing
The HLC worked in partnership with PEACE and the Commission on Affordable Housing to put in place a dedicated funding source to pay impact fees for affordable/workforce housing. This has provided hundreds of thousands in impact fee reimbursements to make the cost of building affordable housing cheaper. This effort has assisted over 300 units become more affordable through impact fee reimbursement.
Advocating for Housing Funds and Policy
The HLC Public Policy committee has worked tirelessly in advocating for the State Housing Trust Funds (Sadowski Funds) being fully allocated to housing which has provided tens of millions in funding to our county each year. We have also advocated for policy changes that help affordable housing strategies work the way they were intended.
Fighting NIMBYism (Not in My Back Yard)
Provided technical assistance and public testimony to get over 1,600 units of workforce and affordable housing through the county/ municipal approval process with an emphasis on combating NIMBYism (Not in My Backyard).
The HLC has provided workshops on funding sources, lending, resources, subsidy, credit and many other topics to help build capacity of over 400 individuals active in housing efforts in our community.