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Miami Herald - August
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week, I wrote about some impressive work Broward Housing Partnership
and the Greater Miami Chamber have been doing on the workforce housing
front and asked for leads on what other individuals, businesses and
community groups are doing. I'm happy to report there is a lot going on
-- in South Florida and around the state.
you are developers and real-estate investors who wanted to tell me that
yes, there is good housing stock for less than $200K, and companies and
municipalities should help get the word out. Others talked about
finding new, more efficient ways to construct the housing so that it
would be more profitable to build. Still others pointed out tri-county
initiatives and see hope in plans for new areas, like the Miami Health
I also found
out about several websites. One of those, floridaworkforcehousing.net,
is full of news items and resources from around the state. Its editor,
Steve Webster, is now working on other sites, including
mynewfloridahome.org, which will include a directory of affordable
properties. 'As Florida's housing crisis worsens, the builder/developer
industry will come to accept that `affordable' is the new center of the
market, not the poorest fringe,'' Webster believes. He led me to Tom Zuniga.
who heads up DSG Capital and has a long history of involvement in
affordable housing in South Florida, thinks one solution is to better
equip community organizations with the tools to understand, strategize
and execute workforce housing development. Because they best represent
community stakeholders, they become the catalysts to make real change,
To that end, he is teaching a very hands-on
program at University of South Florida, which has partnered with the
city of Tampa and Hillsborough County. ''We are certifying community
developers,'' Zuniga says. Neighboring counties may also join. Why USF?
The university was extremely receptive to his proposal and is a
terrific partner, he says. He sees this program as a model for other
initiatives that could be created around the state.
most interesting thing to me is that his students -- staff members of
government agencies, municipal planners, builder-developers, Webster
and others -- are working on real-life projects for that area, such as
employer-assisted housing for city workers.
want to birth a new generation of community developers. It's no longer
only about being a do-gooder,'' says Zuniga. ``Affordable housing is a
major economic issue.''
Nancy Dahlberg is the editor
of Business Monday.