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Rep. Frankel hosts roundtable on homelessness, affordable housing in Palm Beach County

Posted at 2:19 PM, Feb 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-19 22:13:16-05

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Palm Beach County’s population has increased by 12 percent in the last decade and affordable housing options have not kept pace.

Additionally, the homeless population has increased by 100 people over the last year to 1,400.

On Wednesday, Congresswoman Lois Frankel (FL-21) held a roundtable with local mayors, housing experts, and nonprofits who say federal intervention is needed. They also addressed another growing population: lower-middle income families.

“The missing middle – they call [them],” said Armando Fana, West Palm Beach assistant city administrator. “Working families and households that are close to middle income or lower-middle income – that don’t make enough money to afford the cost for housing. The median cost for housing is beyond their reach in a lot of cases both for rental and for home ownership.”

Fana estimates it’s for families earning approximately $63,000 for a family of three. Rep. Frankel says a quarter of a million people in Palm Beach County are paying more of their income than they can afford for housing.

“This is everybody’s problem here,” said Rep. Frankel. “And it could be a teacher, a nurse, a housekeeper. The fact of matter is they should have a decent place to live and so there’s a range. It’s not just the people at the lowest end of the income status. It’s people who make a middle-class living that’s very unaffordable.”

County commissioners are now considering a $150 million housing bond that would provide 20,000 units of workforce and affordable housing for these families.

“The issue has gotten to a point where it’s a breaking point,” said Mack Bernard, Palm Beach County District 7 commissioner. “The issue here in terms of affordable housing is a federal, state and local issue. And we want to do our part to address the housing needs of our residents.”

“The incomes are not keeping up with the housing costs,” added Fana. “What types of legislation are needed at the federal level in order to enact the changes that we need to see for housing policy, for mental health policy. There are so many different federal regulations and rules that need to be looked at. As well as new legislation.”

West Palm Beach officials are additionally considering tax abatement in certain properties and workforce housing in the growing downtown district.