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Palm Beach County leaders hope to create more affordable housing

Palm Beach County commissioners meet on Jan. 25, 2022.jpg
Posted at 3:37 PM, Jan 25, 2022

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — There are renewed efforts to see more affordable housing in South Florida. Palm Beach County commissioners are taking aim at the growing cost to cover rent and mortgages.

Flagler Station right off Banyan Boulevard near downtown West Palm Beach will create nearly 100 affordable housing units when it's complete this year, but it’s not enough to meet the growing demand for housing.

Palm Beach County’s Department of Housing and Economic Development addressed county commissioners Tuesday about concerning trends in the housing sector.

The county already funds numerous programs that produce and preserve affordable and workforce housing, but the number of newly constructed units is still falling short.

"We are working with those communities to keep those individuals in their homes," said Palm Beach County Administrator Verdenia Baker.

Baker said home prices are soaring. Over the last year, the median home purchase price reached $500,000. And the fair market rent for a two-bedroom apartment is more than $1,400 per month.

"You’re hearing the stories of individuals who may have been paying $1,500 or $2,000 and now those rates are going up 50% to 100%," Baker said.

The cost is taking a toll on renters like Lakyn Fornari in Palm Beach Gardens.

"This year right now I’m paying $2,320 roughly for this apartment which is a 2/2, and I've been looking online to see my lease is up this summer and it’s roughly $3,200 to $4,200 for this exact apartment," Fornari said.

A 50% spike in monthly rent will make the decision to renew her lease difficult.

"I either try to find something when there’s no inventory or I’m stuck paying about $1,000 more," Fornari said.

The county is looking at additional options to create and expand housing options, like rehabilitating older homes and building on county-owned property. But commissioners also said the amount of available land to build on is limited.