Preserving Affordable Rental Housing

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

Florida is home to more than 2,700 public and assisted housing developments, which provide over 281,000 low-cost apartments to low-income families, seniors, and persons with disabilities. Public housing developments are owned by local public housing authorities. 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.

Assisted housing can be lost when income and rent restrictions associated with subsidy programs expire. Aging properties may also be at risk of physical deterioration and financial default unless they receive additional capital investment. Since 1993, Florida has lost more than 600 assisted housing developments to subsidy expirations, conversion to market-rate housing, deterioration, and foreclosure. Strategies to preserve at-risk assisted housing include transferring developments to a new owner, providing new financing to extend subsidies, renovation of aging facilities, and energy efficiency upgrades.

The Shimberg Center tracks assisted housing properties in Florida through the Assisted Housing Inventory, an application on the Florida Housing Data Clearinghouse site. The application also includes the Lost Properties Inventory, a database formerly assisted properties that are no longer operating under affordability restrictions. The Center also has performed extensive research on the preservation, including an analysis of preservation risks in Florida in the Statewide Rental Market Study; Opting In, Opting Out, A Decade Later, a national study of HUD rental assistance opt-outs; and a study of preservation risks in Miami-Dade County produced in partnership with Miami Homes for All and National Housing Trust.

Key findings

  • Preserving assisted housing saves homes for tenants with very modest incomes. Average annual tenant income is $13,475 for tenants in HUD-subsidized units, $16,688 in USDA-subsidized units, and $23,667 in developments funded by Florida Housing Finance Corporation.
  • Thousands of assisted housing units in Florida are at risk of loss in the next decade due to expirations of 30-year Low-Income Housing Tax Credit properties, maturing USDA Rural Development mortgages, and expiring HUD rental assistance contracts.
  • Properties with these characteristics are at higher risk of opt-out from HUD rental assistance: family occupancy, small buildings and units, for-profit ownership, and low rents compared to the surrounding markets.
  • Of formerly assisted developments, few provide units that are affordable to tenants at 60% of AMI, and 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.