Habitat for Humanity of Broward provides the opportunity to own an affordable residence to those in need so that they can have a stable home for their families. Homeownership is key because it is proven to lead to higher rates of graduation from high school and college, better health, reduced crime and increased civic engagement.

In order to understand the crisis we face in Broward, let’s first define affordable housing.

Affordable housing is defined as homes affordable to people with a median household income of about $64,100 in South Florida. Unfortunately, much of our workforce does not earn the area median income. Valuable employees including pre-school teachers, bank tellers, social workers, legal aides, and tourism and service professionals, such as servers and bartenders, cannot afford the available rentals (see Rents outpace wages graph below from the Shimberg Center for Housing Studies at the University of Florida, 2017). These are people we come across every day, who are trying to make a living and struggling to keep a roof over their heads.

To be considered affordable, no more than 30% of household income should be spent on housing. According to a June 2017 report from the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University, nearly two of three renters in South Florida (Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties) spend more than 30% of their income on housing. In addition, more than one-third of renters in South Florida (304,200 households) are severely cost-burdened, meaning they spend more than half of their income on housing.

In addition, according to the United Way’s ALICE (Asset, Limited, Income, Constrained, Employed) report, 82% of new jobs in Florida will pay less than $15 an hour by 2023, even as the total cost of living increases at a rapid pace.

These statistics make South Florida the most cost-burdened housing market in the country. That is why Habitat Broward is elevating the conversation about the housing crisis. When people spend too much on their housing, they are less likely to receive medical attention, prepare healthy meals and save money for their future. In addition, rising housing costs mean that more people are on the brink of homelessness. Adding to this crisis is the lack of public support—including dollars intended for affordable housing that are diverted in Tallahassee. Habitat Broward is sounding the alarm now so that each of us can become affordable housing advocates.

Everyone should have access to stable housing, especially hardworking families. Donating to Habitat for Humanity can help a family find (finally) a safe, decent place to call home. To donate, visit our donation page.

To learn how you can advocate for affordable housing, contact our Habitat AmeriCorps volunteer JoAnne Marc.