Miami-Dade Commissioners Think Tiny Houses Might Solve Housing Crisis

With Miami-Dade rents skyrocketing, the county has repeatedly acknowledged the area's affordable-housing problem.

But so far, most attempts to solve the crisis have been futile. The county's affordable-housing trust, which was supposed to fund construction of new affordable units, has lay dormant for ten years. In 2016, when Commissioner Barbara Jordan tried to mandate that developers include affordable units next to luxury condos, the industry threw a fit and made sure the ordinance failed. Even existing housing options aren't safe: The Miami Herald reported last week that Mayor Carlos Gimenez has been in talks about tearing down (and potentially renovating) a public-housing complex next to David Beckham's new soccer stadium in Overtown.

But county commissioners have come to a consensus on one possible solution: tiny houses. This past Tuesday, the commission unanimously directed the mayor's office to study the possibility of changing zoning laws to allow developers to build houses measuring less than 300 square feet. The resolution, sponsored by Jordan (who, to her credit, has unsuccessfully pitched other solutions over the years), says tiny homes could help alleviate the housing shortage.

"Micro houses would encourage the efficient use of land by accommodating greater population density in a smaller area," the resolution reads.

The suggestion isn't even the weirdest idea local leaders have had about affordable housing in recent years. Miami Beach commissioners have discussed turning parking garages into workforce housing, and a nonprofit trying to tackle the housing crisis has pitched the idea of setting people up in modified shipping containers.

But despite the resolution's good intentions, micro-houses aren't enough to solve Miami's housing problems. For one, any family larger than one adult would have difficulty fitting inside 300 square feet of living space, even if it does look trendy.

And despite being incredibly small, these homes can still cost tens of thousands of dollars, whereas the average Miamian has only $18 left at the end of the month for savings.

Then again, South Florida developers have pretty much taken every other option off the table. At the end of the day, this is the solution we're left with: tiny houses for regular-size humans struggling to pay their enormous rents.
KEEP MIAMI NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Jessica Lipscomb is the former news editor of Miami New Times.