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Public Land for Affordable Housing

Initiative by Commissioner Eileen Higgins approved by the Miami-Dade County Board of County Commissioners. By Aurea Veras.

Downtown NEWS
Sep 1 · 2 min read

Commissioner Eileen Higgins, District 5, proposed studying options to collaborate with other government, institutional, and private entities to aggregate land and create more affordable housing units for Miami-Dade residents, and to identify parcels that could be used to pilot the program. The proposed initiative draws upon the work of University of Miami’s (UM) Land Access for Neighborhood Development “LAND” tool.

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Image from LAND, showing the Downtown Miami area. To further explore this tool, please visit Image courtesy of the University of Miami.

“Our goal in creating the LAND tool was to have County and municipal governments utilize it to promote affordable housing and equitable community development. This legislation shows the powerful impact that comes from policy makers partnering with university researchers to build capacity within our community,” observed Robin Bachin, Associate Professor of History and Assistant Provost for Civic and Community Engagement at the University of Miami.

And Commissioner Higgins added: “Solving the affordable housing crisis in Miami-Dade requires innovative proposals and political will to make hard choices. Identifying, aggregating, and utilizing public and institutionally owned land for affordable housing is exactly the type of innovative proposal we need. Utilizing the University of Miami’s LAND Tool, every piece of public-owned land exists in one database creating a path towards unlocking that land for affordable housing or other public good. Local governments around the country have done this for over 100 years — while it will not be easy, it’s another step towards providing housing relief to Miami-Dade residents.”

In 2019, the UM Office of Civic and Community Engagement debuted the LAND tool, a free, online mapping tool that identified more than 500 million square feet of vacant, unused, or underutilized land across the County and its municipalities. The LAND tool provides a snapshot of the location, size, and ownership of the properties owned by the County and its 34 municipalities, community development agencies, and religious and educational institutions that could be used to house low-income residents.

Commissioner Higgins’ initiative is a step forward in solving one of the most serious problems in Miami, and a good example of a collaborative approach.

Aurea Veras writes on social issues, food, and is a photographer.

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