Preserving Affordable Rental Housing

Crescent Club Apartments, a 215-unit affordable housing development for low-income seniors, before and after preservation.

Preserving Affordable Rental Housing

Florida is home to more than 2,300 assisted housing developments, which provide over 250,000 low-cost apartments to low-income families, seniors, and persons with disabilities. Assisted housing developments are owned by private for-profit or non-profit corporations and receive subsidies from federal, state and local programs in exchange for affordability restrictions. Since 1993, Florida has lost more than 600 assisted housing developments to subsidy expirations, conversion to market-rate housing, deterioration, and foreclosure.

The Shimberg Center, Florida Housing Finance Corporation and Florida Housing Coalition have entered into a partnership to preserve Florida's assisted housing stock, with support from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Preservation strategies include transferring developments to a new owner, providing new financing to extend subsidies, renovation of aging facilities, and energy efficiency upgrades.

The Shimberg Center's role is to perform data collection and research to build our Assisted Housing Inventory, a publicly available database of assisted properties; to track properties that have been lost to the assisted housing stock through our Lost Properties Inventory; and to learn more about tenant characteristics in assisted housing.

Key Findings

  • Preserving assisted housing saves homes for tenants with very modest incomes. In units with ongoing rental assistance such as HUD Section 8, average tenant income is approximately $11,500. In affordable units without monthly rent subsidies, such as those funded by the Low Income Housing Tax Credit, average income is approximately $25,000.
  • Losses of assisted housing come in waves, and appropriate preservation responses need to change as conditions change. Florida began to lose large numbers of assisted units in 2002, as early tax credit and bond-financed developments met their subsidy expiration dates. Condo conversions spiked in the mid-2000s. Currently, financial distress, poor physical conditions and maturing mortgages and bond financing are leading the wave of assisted housing loss.
  • Most formerly assisted housing developments (70%) continue to operate as rental housing. One-fifth have been converted to condominiums, with most of the rest vacant or demolished.
  • Of formerly assisted developments still offering rental housing, most provide apartments affordable to tenants at 60% of AMI, but none offer units affordable for extremely low-income (ELI) households with incomes at or below 30% of AMI. Florida's preservation efforts are directed toward this threat; Florida Housing's preservation funding programs prioritize developments with HUD or RD rental assistance, which largely serve ELI tenants.
  • The developments least likely to remain affordable post-subsidy are small complexes, developments in neighborhoods with higher rents, and developments that are well connected to bus transit.

Contact

Anne Ray (aray@ufl.edu)