The poverty rate of Miami-Dade County is 20%, which ranks Miami-Dade as the 16th poorest amongst large counties. The city of Miami has the highest poverty rate for a city of its size in the US, with nearly a third of the population living in poverty. A full-time worker earning minimum wage earns an annual salary of $10,712 while the US census defines poverty as annual income below $17,603 for a family of four.
The fair market rent (FMR) in Miami-Dade County is $593 for a one-bedroom unit, and $727 for a two-bedroom unit. In Florida, 43% of renters are unable to afford* FMR for a two-bedroom unit. A minimum wage earner can afford a monthly rent of no more than $268, and would have to work 109 hours per week to afford a two-bedroom unit at the area’s FMR.
Miami-Dade County suffers from a severe shortage of affordable housing. Of the existing stock of affordable housing, many units are substandard: one of every three apartment buildings in the county repeatedly fails to meet safety standards, leaving the tenants vulnerable to fire and health hazards. In an attempt to make housing affordable, many families move in with other families, leading to severe overcrowding. These close quarters in unlicensed, substandard properties lead to unhealthy living conditions for its residents. Thousands of families live in unsafe environments with high rents.
The availability of affordable rental housing is slim and families are being priced out of the housing market. Homeownership rates throughout the nation having risen, yet in Miami-Dade County homeownership rates have decreased to 49.3% - among the lowest for metropolitan areas in the United States.
Increasing homeownership improves the quality of neighborhoods by increasing both the length of time families remain in the neighborhood and their involvement in their community. Homeowners are more likely than renters to be involved in civic activities and improving the quality of life of their surrounding community. Homeownership stabilizes neighborhoods by replacing abandoned lots with properties that generate tax dollars. Homeownership also boosts a neighborhood’s wealth through the increase of equity and the mortgage interest tax deductions.
Since 1989, Habitat for Humanity of Greater Miami has been working within the community to build decent, affordable homes in partnership with families in need, volunteers and donors. Habitat breaks down economic and social barriers by bringing people of different races, ethnicities and cultural backgrounds to work together for a common goal. Through the work of Miami Habitat, its donors and volunteers over 450 families have been given the opportunity to own a safe and affordable home.
*According to Chapter 420 of the Florida Statues, "Affordable" means that monthly rents or monthly mortgage payments including taxes, insurance, and utilities do not exceed 30 percent annual income for a household.