County Commissioner Nan Rich Addresses Government Affairs Commitee
Among the Greater Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce's major initiatives in 2019, and beyond, is the development of affordable workforce housing. Over the course of the past year, many Chamber members especially within the hospitality and tourism industry say it's becoming more and more difficult for employees to find an affordable place to live near their place of work. This critical problem directly impacts another issue that literally drives South Floridians mad - traffic. Imagine if countless workers could potentially walk to their place of work or not have to drive dozens of miles from the suburbs to the urban core. Buses and rail transportation are options, but the construction of affordable housing can potentially lessen the amount of commuters.
The Chamber realizes this is a long-term goal, but is determined to work with city and county leaders. Chamber President and CEO Dan Lindblade is also engaged with talks surrounding the ongoing efforts to continue funding and respecting the purpose of the Sadowski Trust Fund, which helps to facilitate the construction and development of affordable housing in multiple capacities across Florida. In past years, lawmakers have looted the affordable housing trust fund for purposes other than what it was intended to do.
While the Chamber keeps tabs on Tallahassee, it's also staying up to speed on what's being done in our own backyard. The Chamber's Government Affairs Committee had the pleasure of welcoming Broward County Commissioner Nan Rich and Broward County Director of Housing Finance and Community Development Ralph Stone to its June meeting.
Commissioner Rich did not mince words when it came to affordable housing which she has labeled as her top priority, saying "there's not a city in Broward County that has enough affordable housing." She also made it clear that partnerships between the county and its cities are vital, adding " it's about collaboration, no one can do it by themselves." As for what Broward County is doing in hopes of attracting private developers and providing gap financing for projects, Rich says the county is setting aside about $5 million per year, which has resulted in the construction of 600 units.
She also touched on the Affordable Housing Trust Fund that Broward County voters approved of in the November election. She again stressed the need to create inter local agreements and reiterated that unlike the Sadowski Trust Fund, Broward's Trust Fund can only be accessed for affordable housing purposes, meaning any money that is put in the "lockbox" is there for a specific reason.
Commissioner Rich also provided startling statistics during her remarks, stating that under 13% of Broward County residents can afford the average home price of $350,000 and that the average rent for a two-bedroom apartment stands at $1,902.
Following her remarks, members of the committee did make note that local building codes and permitting processes can make for difficult obstacles when it comes to the creation of affordable housing. Nonetheless, the Government Affairs Committee pledged to remain focused on this critical matter, before discussing other topics.
Among the other items on the agenda, the Committee addressed the potential for a change to a City of Fort Lauderdale regulation that prohibits companies and organizations such as political action committees from making political contributions to candidates who are running for office. A motion to support a revision was approved.