Scott Anthony has lived in Boynton, Florida for a while now with his three children. Currently paying $1,350./month in rent, less than the city’s average rent of $1,493./month, he’d love to buy a home in Boynton with his girlfriend. His problem? So far this year, there have been no closings in Boynton for new homes that cost less than $350,000. or more. Scott’s less than $10/hour wages just doesn’t cut a $350,000+ price tag.
Scott’s not the only person being priced out of homeownership in Boynton. Palm Beach County isn’t much better. With 2016 median incomes of $47,580. in Boynton and $65,400. in Palm Beach, it may be a very long while, if ever, for police officers, firefighters, teachers, home health workers, road rangers, housekeepers working in gated communities, and Scott Anthony to actually own and live in a home where they work.
After too much time, some local officials and housing non-profits are taking notice of the housing problem. County and local officials in Palm Beach have asked their staffs to do comprehensive reviews of their workforce/affordable housing laws (suspended for the last four years and ignored for the previous ten before that) with a directive to offer incentives for developers to build such housing. “If you don’t incentivize it, no one’s going to participate,” said one Mr. Mack, City Council member.
One public private partnership, St. John Missionary Baptist Church and the Dallas-based Roundstone Development housing builder, are proposing to build affordable housing for seniors in Palm Beach. Their catch is that Palm Beach’s Community Redevelopment Commission on Aging come up with $10M over 20 years and $1M up front now. We’ll see how that works out.
Boynton’s workforce/affordable housing ordinance addresses both workforce (80% – 120% of the average median income) and affordable housing (80% of the average median income and below) needs. Local developers are planning to build in Boynton’s Downtown Transit-Oriented Development District, an area that allows 25% more density while simultaneously incorporating 25% affordable housing. Boynton officials and developers, however, had better act quickly. The area is anticipating 1,800 additional households, most earning less than $50,000./year, over the next five years.
In the meantime, Scott Anthony and his girlfriend continue to rent in Boynton. “We’re here and we want to stay here. If that means having to rent forever, I guess that’s what we’ll do.”