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8 ways YOU can help tackle our housing affordability crisis

Your View is a recurring series of opinion pieces from members of The New Tropic community. To share your ideas, goals, and work about Miami with the community in a Your View piece, please submit it to [email protected].

Housing affordability is a critical issue facing our community. While it can feel like an insurmountable challenge, there are many specific steps you can take as an engaged local to improve the status quo – and these actions don’t require you to be an expert in housing or take on this issue as your full time job. If you’re eager to play a role and want to know what YOU can do, this is for you.

With support from JPMorgan Chase & Co., Radical Partners held a week-long community brainstorm in November called “100 Great Ideas,” inviting locals to propose solutions to our housing affordability crisis. More than 2,500 people joined in, posted, commented, and reacted thousands of times, generating more than 250 ideas. You can read the final report here.

What next? Certainly, our elected and community leaders should (and are) taking a close look, but what can locals do to elevate solutions? Quite a lot. Here are some concrete action steps you can take, suggested by seven organizations working on housing affordability in South Florida, each of whom helped us host this campaign:

  1. Show up. Too often, commission chambers are full of people against something. Show up in support of something. Join a cause, donate to a local group, support a project, or advocate for one of the top ideas in the 100 Great Ideas Campaign (like my favorite, community land trusts). – Mandy Bartle, South Florida Community Land Trust
  2. Encourage your legislators to not sweep the Sadowski Affordable Housing Trust Fund:
    • For the past 11 years, Florida state legislators have been “sweeping” the Sadowski Affordable Housing Trust Fund, generated by a small document tax on all real estate transactions in the state, and have used these funds for other purposes. The state House is proposing to sweep part of the fund again this year. Contact your legislators and urge them to use all to the Sadowski dollars for housing –  Shekeria Brown, South Florida Community Development Coalition
    • With almost 60% of our households struggling to make ends meet (according to the United Way ALICE Report), we all must continue to work across sectors to find solutions. Laws need to be put in place and monitored to ensure housing trust funds like the Sadowski fund are used for their intended purpose – to develop affordable housing for the workforce, the elderly and the disabled. As a specific action step, we encourage locals to ask their legislators to not sweep the Sadowski Affordable Housing Trust Fund. To find out more about the Sadowski trust fund, check out United Way’s In Session blog. – United Way of Miami-Dade
  3. Get involved with the HOMY Youth Homelessness Collective: The lack of affordable housing is a direct cause of homelessness in Miami-Dade County. As of 2017, there were approximately 8,000 homeless students in Miami-Dade County’s school system alone. Miami Homes For All partners with a number of organizations, government agencies, and service providers seeking to prevent and end youth homelessness with the “HOMY Collective – Helping Our Miami-Dade Youth.” Join the Collective and become advocates for youth experiencing homelessness. Learn more about the HOMY Collective and how to get involved here! – Audrey Aradanas, Miami Homes for All
  4. Ask for a comprehensive affordable housing plan: In the 100 Great Ideas campaign, locals shared thousands of ideas to improve housing affordability. What we need now is a roadmap for turning ideas into policies and results. Increasingly, cities across the country are using “housing blueprints” to tie existing and new policies from local government and other sectors together. Here are two good examples from Austin and Denver. Ask your local elected officials and community leaders to implement a comprehensive plan and then hold them accountable to meet established goals.  – Anna McMaster, South Florida Community Land Trust
  5. Change the narrative around affordable housing: For years, housing affordability has been stigmatized as a problem only for the poor and Black people. However, in the 21st century, a lack of affordability crosses income, race and gender lines. To make a difference, start by changing the narrative around housing affordability by creating positive messaging and sharing real stories in an effort to compel lawmakers to affect policy and land use changes that are helpful and inclusive of everyone. Share your story using #affordablehousingmatters and learn more about how to change the narrative here.  – Daniella Pierre, Housing Chairperson, Miami Dade Branch NAACP
  6. Join a board or committee: You can help build the capacity of nonprofits and other mission-oriented organizations that want to create more affordable housing opportunities by serving on a board or committee. If you have interest and time to serve on a nonprofit board or volunteer, please contact SFCDC for board openings (email [email protected] or call (786) 237-2125). – South Florida Community Development Coalition
  7. Join the “Community Scholars in Affordable Housing” program: Catalyst Miami offers and collaborates on a number of free programs, trainings, and networks that individuals and organizations can join to collectively move the needle. One joint effort between UM’s CCE, SFCDC, Rosado and Associates, and Catalyst is the Community Scholars in Affordable Housing program. The program serves as a community of practice for those interested in learning more about housing affordability issues and best practices – Santiago Bunce, Catalyst Miami
  8. Spread the word about innovative strategies: Check out the Miami Housing Solutions Lab to get information on local housing needs and innovative strategies that prevent displacement and promote affordable housing. Specifically, the Miami Housing Policy Toolkit features various policies that could be implemented at the local level. Share this information with local policymakers and planners to help accelerate new housing solutions! – Jorge Damian de la Paz, University of Miami Office of Civic and Community Engagement

This housing affordability crisis is too important to sit on the sidelines. Pick an action step and run with it. And, of course let us know if there is anything we can do to support you.

Full steam ahead.

Thank you to JPMorgan Chase for supporting the 100 Great Ideas campaign.