Palm Beach County’s Middle Class Still Waiting For Promised “Workforce Housing”

Sep 19, 2012

A controversial agreement between Palm Beach County and developers is finally producing reduced-price homes for low- to middle-income families.

It’s just not happening fast enough.

In 2006, at the height of South Florida’s building boom, the county decided to set aside affordable housing for its workforce.  So it struck what sounded like a sweet deal for developers: they could build more houses than usual within certain areas, provided they knock down some prices. 

A one-bedroom apartment would rent for about $814 a month, while a single-family home would sell for as low as $135,000.

But of the thousand housing units approved, less than 200 are now on the market or under construction.

Deputy County Administrator Verdenia Baker says some of the main questions being asked by businesses recruiting to the community are, “Where will my people live? What are your housing prices?  I can't afford to pay a $40,000 a year salary and the person not be living in the community." 

Palm Beach County planners admit that the workforce housing program has been taking some time to gather momentum.

But they say they're confident that all of the promised units be will built -- once the demand for housing returns to pre-recession levels.