Need help affording rent or trying to own in South Florida? Here's a list of resources
South Florida was already among the most unaffordable areas in the nation before the COVID-19 pandemic. Sure, compared to New York City or San Francisco, the rent was much cheaper — but the salaries were nowhere near where they needed to be.
In the post-pandemic world, the Miami metropolitan area has become the epicenter of a cost of living crisis, primarily driven by the exploding cost of housing. If wages were not keeping up with South Florida rents before the pandemic, by this point those two data points have completely decoupled.
WLRN has done quite a bit of reporting on the housing crisis afflicting South Florida. But one thing we haven’t done enough of is pointing people in the right direction to try to get assistance. What follows below is an attempt to guide our audience to places that might be able to help, either with renting or for potentially owning a home.
- Miami-Dade Emergency Rental Assistance Program: This program was started in 2020 with federal dollars, and has since helped over 20,000 families pay rent. Applications are not open now, but the program received an additional $4.6 million for the 2023-2024 fiscal year, so it should be open again soon.
- Monroe County Rental Assistance
- City of Miami Senior Rental Assistance Program: Seniors 62 and older who live within the city of Miami and who have a household income at 50% or less of the Area Median Income can qualify for up to $500 in rental assistance. Applications close Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2024.
For help paying light bills, internet, water and others:
- Miami-Dade Program for Utility Assistance
- Broward County Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program
- Palm Beach Utility Assistance Program
- Monroe County Utility Assistance
- City of Homestead Utility Assistance
Assistance for elderly residents
Miami-Dade Save Our Seniors Program: This program will mail checks to eligible seniors to help keep them in the homes that they own. The program received $19 million in funds in the county’s 2023-2024 budget, using funds from an under-utilized mortgage relief program. An estimated 36,000 senior households are eligible and it could amount to $500 per household in assistance.
Section 8 / Affordable housing waitlists
Applications to receive Section 8 housing vouchers only open every few years, and are currently closed in Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, and Monroe Counties. Hialeah has its own housing authority, but those programs are not currently open either. It can take many years to receive a Section 8 voucher or to gain access to public housing, even if an application is successfully submitted. Don’t hate us, we are just the messengers.
These vouchers are only available to individuals or families that fall under certain income thresholds.
Keep your eyes peeled: On Dec. 12, the Miami-Dade County commission is scheduled to vote on whether the waitlist should be reopened starting on Jan. 3, 2024. If it opens up, you had better get on it early.
Florida's first time homebuyer program
With Florida's “Hometown Heroes” Program, the state is providing up to $35,000 in assistance with down payment and closing costs for first time home buyers. The program initially only assisted people with certain professions, but a $710 million housing law passed in 2023 made the assistance available to residents of all professions.
Local homebuyer assistance programs
WLRN has reported on first-time homebuyer programs run by local governments and found that, as prices have increased, some of these programs are approaching irrelevance. The prices are simply too high for someone to make enough money to realistically buy a pricey home while still falling below the income requirements. So fewer and fewer people are using the local programs.
- Miami-Dade County First Time Homebuyer Program
- Broward County Homebuyer Purchase Assistance Program
- Palm Beach County First Time Homebuyer Program
Applications will open up for the Palm Beach County First Time Homebuyer Program on December 27, 2023. Since median incomes are rather high in Palm Beach County, and income requirements are based on local data, a family of four with up to $136,360 in annual income can qualify.
If you are aware of other programs that should be included here, please let us know through the email below.