Affording Housing In Broward Was Already Difficult For Many. Then The Pandemic Hit
Broward County has already been in need of more affordable housing well before the coronavirus pandemic began to impact most areas of life.
Renters that are considered severely cost-burdened spend more than 50 percent or more of their income on housing. In Broward, the last several years have shown those households on the rise, according to a 2018 report by the FIU Metropolitan Center.
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Now that the pandemic has dramatically increased unemployment, housing experts in the county say it will take time to fully understand what the economic downturn will mean for people struggling to afford a place to live.
The South Florida Institute on Aging, or the SoFIA, recently hosted a panel via Zoom all about aging and housing in Broward County. The ways in which COVID-19 has impacted both topics is unavoidable.
Executive director of the Coordinating Council of Broward, Sandra Veszi Einhorn, spoke up about the concerns she has for the county's Asset Limited Income-Constrained and Employed (ALICE) households.
"Here in Broward County, our ALICE population, was 50 percent? And that was before the pandemic. That's just 2018 data," she said during the panel. "So when you think about the fact that half of Broward County households could not withstand a $500 emergency 18 to 24 months before COVID crashed into all of our lives, I think everyone should really be holding their breath and thinking about the avalanche of disaster that's going to be happening."
Einhorn, who also directs the Nonprofit Executive Alliance of Broward, bases her concerns off of the 2018 housing needs assessment from the FIU Metropolitan Center.
"Less than 13 percent of Broward County residents can afford the medium priced home," she said.
The median price of a single-family house in the county hovers around $350,000.
Congress is currently trying to agree on what a second round of federal relief will look like, and has not decided how much relief to extend, or what that will look like when it comes to housing. And that includes renters.
Einhorn said she believes the new landscape for renters and owners struggling to afford housing, much less other basic necessities — like medicine, childcare and transportation — is not something experts can know the full impact of anytime soon.
"Again, this is all data that was pre-COVID. So what's going to happen to our real estate market? What's going to happen to our renters?" Einhorn asked. "I think that's a question that is going to take months, if not years to truly, truly see... how that manifests itself."