Commissioners in Miami-Dade County, Fla., have temporarily halted building permits for trailer park conversions in an effort to preserve the area's dwindling supply of affordable housing. The stopgap measure, which went into effect on Oct. 16, buys time for the county to compile recommendations on alternative housing solutions for displaced residents whose trailer parks are sold to make way for new development.
"We will look at all options, including other affordable housing options," said Subrata Basu, interim director for the Miami-Dade County Department of Planning and Zoning.
A formal report, to be completed within 120 days, will address relocation issues such as moving expenses, compensation for trailers, affordable housing, and inclusionary zoning, according to the South Florida Business Journal.
The moratorium comes on the heels of a regional mobile home conference held July 31 at Miami Dade College that attracted more than 100 residents from 12 local trailer park neighborhoods. Legal experts on hand during the event apprised attendees of their rights in land negotiations with developers. A Mobile Home Council was subsequently formed to provide training to those interested in forming homeowners' associations.
Sponsored by the nonprofit advocacy group South Florida Jobs with Justice, the conference gave voice to concerns over gentrification and the potential for displaced trailer park residents to become homeless. In a survey of 20 mobile home parks, the nonprofit determined that 75 percent of local trailer park residents own their homes, but not the land under them. If evicted, these residents- who shoulder median monthly mortgage payments of $472-would have no comparable affordable housing options, the study found.
According to U.S. Census figures, 54 percent of homeowners in Miami-Dade County spend more than a third of their income on housing, up from 41 percent in 1999. (By comparison, only 34 percent of homeowners nationwide currently spend more than a third of their take-home pay on housing.) The housing burden for renters is even higher, with roughly 60 percent of renters spending more than a third of their income on housing.
Tensions over trailer park deals have mounted in recent years as developers have clamored to buy up prime waterfront real estate for luxury residential projects. The highest profile case involved the community of Briny Breezes, whose 488 mobile homeowners voted to sell their 43-acre barrier-island parcel to a high-end developer for $510 million. The developer, Ocean Land Investments, later reneged on the deal upon determining that it could not build at a high enough density to justify the price tag on the land.
Learn more about markets featured in this article: Miami, FL.