In a proposal that appears to mirror Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava’s HOMES plan, city of Miami commissioners voted unanimously Sept. 22 to establish an affordable housing trust fund.
Money for the fund would come from rent revenue from Miami Freedom Park. The $1 billion project will feature a soccer stadium, hotel, retail spaces and a large park. The plan would earmark 25% of the rent money, or at least $1 million, for the fund.
Administered by the housing and community development department, the fund would reportedly allow the city to provide financial assistance to developers, homeowners and first-time home buyers. Monies would only be spent through open bids on projects or with commission approval.
The proposal establishes an initial five years of funding, with additional funding to come from interest on any loans the fund provides. Miami Mayor Francis Suarez and city Commissioner Joe Carollo sponsored the plan, which will come up for a final vote in October.
Zoning regulations prevent housing from being built on the city’s Melreese golf course, where Miami Freedom Park will be built. This restriction was acknowledged by Suarez in a statement calling for the city to use public-private partnerships to address creating more housing.
“Although affordable housing cannot be built at the [Melreese] site, we have allocated the generated revenue to assist the housing needs of our residents,” he said. “We will continue to explore and unlock the many opportunities presented by the [Miami Freedom Park] project to better improve the quality of life of our residents.”
The city will begin collecting a reduced rent from Freedom Park developers after the land is vacated by the golf course. The 99-year lease requires the owners of Inter Miami CF, the soccer club behind the new park project, to build a 25,000-seat stadium and adjacent park first.
The full rent, which will be a minimum of $4.3 million annually, will not be collected until the city allows the stadium to be occupied. The team’s owners plan to start hosting games there by the spring of 2025.
An additional proposal was made to direct another 25% of Freedom Park’s rent toward the city’s anti-poverty initiative. The $2.7 million program allows elected officials to allocate funding for nonprofits, community groups, food distribution organizations and other private interests.
That proposal also passed unanimously without discussion. In recent history however, the anti-poverty funds are essentially discretionary funds. Commission approval is required for proposed spending of anti poverty dollars and those proposals are mostly approved unanimously and without debate.