Restaurant Workers Can't Afford 99 Percent of Miami Homes, Study Shows

Restaurant Workers Can't Afford 99 Percent of Miami Homes, Study ShowsEXPAND
Photo by Roman Boed / Flickr

If you ask a random visitor to name five things Miami is famous for, "nice restaurants" is bound to make the list. There's a reason rich people hang out here, after all. No one is laying out $3 million for a beachfront condo if they have to eat dinner at Denny's on a Friday night.

Politicians and rich folks tend to justify how ludicrously expensive Miami is by claiming the city's upper-class wealth trickles down to hotel workers, bartenders, and the like, but a new study this week from Trulia shows, once again, that the city's economy is not designed with the average person in mind. Trulia reports that restaurant workers in Miami-Dade can't afford 99 percent of homes in the area.

In fact, only 0.41 percent of residences are in the price range of a local restaurant worker. Though food-service workers make a fairly normal median income compared to the rest of the nation ($22,490), Trulia reports that Miami's median listing price is $450,000.

"Restaurant workers, as the lowest wage earners among the occupations studied, continue to face the greatest challenges when it comes to affording a home," Trulia notes. "In 61 out of 93 markets this year, the share of homes affordable to restaurant workers is in the single digits, up from 56 markets last year."

As the Miami Herald noted earlier today, Trulia warns that local teachers are also effectively priced out of the real-estate economy. According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, local teachers make a median of $49,013, which means they can't afford 91 percent of the city's listed homes. The data comes as Miami-Dade County is pitching ideas to help teachers find homes — including building housing for instructors right on school campuses.

Trulia also looked at how local doctors, computer programmers, and first responders fare when hunting for mortgages: As one might expect, doctors, who can afford 75 percent of the real-estate market, are doing pretty well. Programmers and first responders are worse off and can each access only about 25 percent of the market, but those numbers don't quite show that those fields are trapped in the same affordability crisis.

Of course, this is roughly the thousandth study that shows that Miami's housing market is simply not designed for normal people to live here year-round and, instead, is optimized for international investors to stash money they've earned overseas in the local real-estate market.

In February and March, real-estate analyst Peter Zalewski released a huge bundle of reports that showed the city has let luxury condo developers build an unprecedented glut of million-dollar-plus condos. While the city is in the middle of a historic affordability crunch, Zalewski noted Miami-Dade County has built so many luxury condos that it will likely take four years to sell them all. In the meantime, restaurant workers can barely find a place to live, and thousands of Miami and Miami Beach residents are on waiting lists for affordable homes.

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