The nonprofit The AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) is working on a ballot initiative for Fort Lauderdale voters to consider on the next general elections, on November 3, 2020.
The ordinance would try to prevent alleged discrimination when affordable housing developments get considered.
If it gets placed on the ballot and approved by voters, the ordinance would require the city to provide specific reasons to reject 100 percent affordable housing developments, as well as a judicial review process and pay for attorneys fees.
"There is no basis to treat proposals to build 100 percent affordable housing any differently from housing projects for middle and upper-income households. The City of Fort Lauderdale should not apply its land use, zoning, and permitting regulations differently depending on the income of the residents of a proposed housing project," says the proposed ordinance.
"What this will do is take the [Not In my Backyard] argument out of deliberations in any future development," said Southern Bureau Chief for AHF Michael Kahane.
The majority of households in Broward County are cost-burdened or severely cost-burdened, meaning they spend more than 30 percent, and even 50 percent of their monthly income on rent alone, according to county data from 2018.
"We don't want anyone else who is coming to the table to solve the affordable housing crisis in Fort Lauderdale to face the types of issues we face," Kahane said.
At the end of September, Fort Lauderdale city officials rejected the foundation's plans to build in Downtown Fort Lauderdale, on the basis that the affordable housing project they were proposing qualified as a social services residential facility and therefore did not match the Downtown Master Plan for the city.
The development had also faced criticism from neighbors and Fort Lauderdale residents because of its density, the size of micro apartment units it was offering, and lack of services available for people who may have formerly experienced homelessness.
The foundation changed its original proposal for 680 micro apartments to 500 apartments in February, including retail space and an EMS Substation. Rent payments for tenants would have been expected to stay under $500 per month.
The AIDS Healthcare Foundation is appealing the rejection to the city's board of adjustment, arguing that the plans for the building were discriminated against because of the city looking at outdated plans for the building and because "of who might live there," Kahane said.
Legal counsel for AHF said that hearing is likely to take place in January, if not December.
If the foundation wins its appeal, the proposal for the building will be reconsidered. If it loses, the foundation is considering taking the issue to court.
As for the ballot initiative that AHF is putting forward, City of Fort Lauderdale spokesperson, Chaz Adams, responded to WLRN with an email statement. It reads in part:
“At this time, no action will be taken in response to the request because it is incomplete. It did not include the required petition addressed to the City Commission requesting that the proposed ordinance attached to said petition be enacted. The required petition must be signed by no less than 1,000 registered voters in the City of Fort Lauderdale, along with other information, and must be accompanied by a certificate from the Supervisor of Elections indicating whether each of the signers is a qualified elector of the City."
Kahane said AHF has plans to collect and submit the signatures to the city by early next week.
You can read the full ballot initiative proposal AHF is putting forward at the City of Fort Lauderdale, below: