Foundation Report: Miami Spends More on Housing, Transportation Than New York

Every week there's an arbitrary new ranking released by some dubious website or publication: Miami ranks last in number of Ivy Leaguers, first in number of Brazilian butt lifts. It's great fodder, but how does Miami stack up when it comes to the stuff that actually matters?

Last night at the Bakehouse Art Complex, the Miami Foundation revealed the findings of a new report outlining how Miami is doing in eight key areas: arts & culture, civic engagement, economy, education, environment & public spaces, health & safety, housing & affordability, and transportation. There was lots to talk about.

See also: The Miami Foundation Raised $130,000 to Help You Create and Beautify Miami's Public Spaces

To compile the report, the Miami Foundation worked with a national firm, Avalanche Consulting. They set up an advisory committee and identified eight key issue areas, then laid out specific goals, such as Miami-Dade being pedestrian and bike friendly, residents having ample, diverse job opportunities, and Miami-Dade having affordable housing.

The final product is a hefty report with lots of interesting takeaways.

"Cost of living wise, New York City is much more expensive than Miami, but if you look at housing costs as a percentage of income and transportation costs as a percentage of income, Miami is much more expensive than New York," said Stuart Kennedy, senior programs officer of the Miami Foundation.

Avalanche Consulting collected the metrics from a host of local, state, and national sources like the Census Bureau and Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Trust for Public Land, and the American Public Transportation Association, among others. They also talked to a number of community stakeholders and local residents.

"We spend on average 54.3 percent of our income on housing and transportation, whereas New York only spends 48 percent," Kennedy said. "That's a very telling piece of data. That transit data is kind of a key metric that affects so many other things from our ability to participate civically, to the affordability of living here, to our environment."

But it's not all bad news.

"On the positive side our education attainment has been going up. Graduation rates went from 71 to 77 percent in the course of two years, so that's really positive and our unemployment rate is doing really well," Kennedy adds.

Here are some other juicy tidbits:

  • 65.1 percent of Miamians are spending more than 30 percent of their income on housing -- a higher percentage than NYC, Houston or Chicago.
  • Nearly 50 percent of Miamians spend 30 minutes or more commuting each day -- higher than the U.S. average.
  • The median income is $41,400 -- significantly lower than other major metros in the U.S. NYC's is $72,190, San Diego's is $61,426 and Chicago's is $53,827.
  • As far as green space and parks, Miami-Dade spends about 60 percent less (on a per capita basis) than New York or Chicago.
  • Miami has more good air quality days every year than any other major metropolis.
  • Miami's economy has recovered faster than most other cities, meaning we've got higher employment growth and an above average number of start-ups launching here.
  • Miamians are civically engaged based on voter turnout (uhh what about the primary?); but we fall way below other cities as far as volunteerism.

You can read the full report online at

The Miami Foundation is launching an accelerator grants program to help spur positive changes in the community. They'll be doling out eight $10,000 grants for each of the key areas outlined in the report. Applicants can submit proposals online.

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Hannah Sentenac covers veg food, drink, pop culture, travel, and animal advocacy issues. She is also editor-in-chief of
Contact: Hannah Sentenac