Can’t afford to live in Broward? Here’s a new idea for more housing and lower rents

The land typically reserved for stores and offices along Broward’s busiest corridors also could be used for homes, boosting the opportunities for new housing across the region.

Under a new county proposal, developers no longer would have to get special permission to build apartments, condos or other residential dwellings on commercial and business properties along the county’s busiest roadways.

Instead, they would have to reserve a portion of those new homes for lower-income families or make significant contributions into a county trust fund that financially supports new affordable housing projects.

The proposal also could affect overall rents in the county by creating an expanding supply of market-rate housing.

Right now, there’s not enough open land left to accommodate the county’s growing workforce, which is adding about 11,000 workers each year. The demand for what housing is available now is pushing costs higher and out of the price range of many families and single workers.

“We keep talking about expanding the workforce, more people coming to move here. Where are they going to live? There is no place for them to live,” said Commissioner Nan Rich, who said affordable rental housing is the most critical problem the county faces. “This is just a never-ending saga.”

Commissioner Steve Geller said allowing more and larger residential complexes along the county’s major corridors also could help reduce traffic congestion by putting more stores and services within walking distance of the residents who move in, while giving them easier access to mass transit when they have to travel farther away.

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