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Summit seeks solutions to Palm Beach County's affordable housing crisis

$200 million housing bond would create 10,000 new affordable housing units
Posted at 12:32 PM, Jun 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-02 17:28:32-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The housing shortage continues to squeeze out renters and homebuyers, which is hindering some companies from moving to Palm Beach County.

At an economic summit focused on housing and transportation, county and city leaders sat down Thursday with developers to discuss streamlining the construction process and creating more supply.

Featuring multiple speakers, the all-day summit was held at the Palm Beach County Convention Center in West Palm Beach.

The crunch to create more affordable housing took center stage at the event.

Palm Beach County Commissioner Mack Bernard speaks on affordable housing, June 2, 2022
Commissioner Mack Bernard outlines how the bond proposal would help improve the Palm Beach County lack of affordable housing.

"In order for us to address this, we have to build new housing stock for our residents in the county," Palm Beach County Commissioner Mack Bernard said.

The commissioner was part of a panel with developers who say they're on board with partnering with the public sector to build more affordable housing. However, there are some obstacles to overcome.

"They need additional dollars. What you'll find with most developers is that they don't mind assisting in the creation of units," Jonathan Brown, the director of Palm Beach County's housing and economic development, said. "But who's going to subsidize some of those units in order to get the units we want for the workforce."

Part of the funding could come from a $200 million housing bond, but the proposal is getting mixed feedback among county commissioners, stalling the board's approval.

Jonathan Brown, the director of Palm Beach County's housing and economic development, June 2, 2022
Jonathan Brown speaks on the affordable housing crisis affecting Palm Beach County.

The bond would assist developers in funding 10,000 new affordable housing units over the next 10 years.

"(This) is a minimal investment for our residents in the county," Bernard said.

He calls the bond initiative a smart solution to increase housing capacity with a small annual increase for taxpayers.

"It will be a little bit from $20 to $25 per year on your taxes, but we have other bonds that are dropping off, so they'll just negate each other," Bernard said.

The potential funds to build are already gaining interest from developers as they look for a cost-effective partnership to meet the demand.

County commissioners will vote on the housing bond later this month. If it's approved, it will then be up to Palm Beach County voters to decide this November.