Bilzin Sumberg

In 2007, the Miami-Dade County Board of County Commissioners adopted Ordinance No. 07-05, which created a voluntary Workforce Housing Development Program in order to encourage development of land available for residential use targeted towards the workforce income group. The program allows real estate developers to obtain density and intensity development bonuses by providing either workforce housing units (WHUs) or a monetary contribution to the Miami-Dade County Affordable Housing Trust Fund. In 2016, the Miami-Dade County Board of County Commissioners adopted Ordinance No. 16-138, which updated the Workforce Housing Development Program by amending certain provisions of the County’s existing voluntary program by enhancing the bonuses and incentives available under the program.

With a shortage of affordable housing in Miami-Dade County, many developers are interested in availing themselves of the benefits of the Workforce Housing Development Program, which include:

  • density and intensity development bonuses;
  • administrative adjustments for setbacks and lot coverage through the administrate site plan review process; and
  • a two-year deferral program for road impact fees.

While the workforce program is completely elective, developers should understand the administrative requirements of the program before proceeding with a project that contains a workforce housing component.

For starters, all potential renters must be members of qualified households. Qualified household means an eligible household that has received a certificate of qualification. Such certificates are issued by the Housing Department or qualified designee establishing a qualified household’s eligibility to purchase or rent a WHU. Each eligible household’s income must meet the income limits at the time of receipt of a certificate of qualification. For example, for a family of four to qualify as extremely low income (30% of median), the income limit is $25,100; to qualify as very low income (50% of median) the income limit is $39,350; and to qualify as low income (80% of median), the income limit is $62,950.

Potential renters must then be provided a lease with a minimum period of twelve (12) months and the lease must comply with all applicable federal and state laws. The lease must include without limitation provisions that specify the maximum household size allowed in the unit, a prohibition against subleasing, and a requirement that the qualified household report any changes in household size or income during the tenancy. If in fact a qualified household’s income increases above the maximum allowed income levels, the qualified household may choose to remain in the WHU for the remainder of the lease term. At the end of the lease term, the formerly qualified household and the developer can even agree to extend the lease term. If the lease is extended though, then the developer must make the next comparable vacant unit at the project available to another eligible household at the WHU rent.

While there are a number of other administrative requirements related to WHUs, those outlined herein are key to any developer considering the benefits of the WHU program.

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