West Palm Beach Racial & Ethnic Equality Action Summit 2021

Real Estate and Housing Policy Recommendations

To reduce racial and ethnic disparities, the Real Estate and Housing Subcommittee identified the following priorities of focus: Expanding options for decent and affordable housing for both homebuyers and renters, and mitigating financial barriers, and increasing programs and funding for prospective homebuyers.

Under these priorities, the Task Force proposes the following policy recommendations:

Last Updated: September 20, 2021

Real Estate and Housing Policy Recommendations

Recommendation: Develop programs that target use of vacant lots, support partnerships to buy distressed properties, and build affordable housing on city-owned land

Establish policies and plans to address barriers to developing on vacant city-owned lots, chronic nuisance properties, and excessively fined properties. Prioritize building quality affordable housing around the Tamarind corridor.

  • Develop a strategic plan towards community ownership of and development on vacant lots and towards the support of community land trust models
  • Develop strategies to discourage investors and private owners from holding onto dilapidated properties in impoverished communities and establish enforcement mechanisms that encourage development
  • Consider exemptions and funding that maintains historic value and character of neighborhoods

Recommendation: Invest resources to support education and capacity-building of local organizations that advocate for tenant rights of vulnerable immigrant communities

Target support for and partnerships with grassroots organizations that have programs helping vulnerable immigrant and Latinx communities receive safe housing.

  • Support an educational campaign, especially in vulnerable immigrants and Latinx communities, to directly inform tenants of their rights and empower tenants in substandard living conditions
  • Conduct a field study that quantifies the housing issues facing immigrant communities in West Palm Beach and thoroughly documents the causes, effects, and impacts in the city

Recommendation: Invest resources to prioritize code enforcement in the most blighted areas and other targeted neighborhoods

  • Amend enforcement tax code for regular inspection of units (e.g., yearly or bi-annually, upon license renewal)
  • Expand resources necessary to increase capacity for conducting inspections and target enforcement action towards code violations and unregistered landlords
  • Review policies and improve safeguards for renters against potential retaliation such as eviction, increased rental fees, and higher maintenance costs

Recommendation: Promote quality rental housing with incentives or ways to support landlords in addressing substandard conditions of both inside and outside units

  • Draft policies to hold landlords accountable for maintaining rental properties and require landlords to be registered in addition to business tax receipts
  • Develop partnerships with schools and youth programs to beautify neighborhoods
  • Provide emergency housing vouchers or funds and explore possibilities for offering alternative living solutions for residents in dilapidated housing situations

Recommendation: Prioritize greater investment in programs that help people, especially historically excluded populations, purchase and maintain homes

  • Enhance communications and information-sharing about avenues to homeownership, including providing funding for grassroots outreach and increasing partnerships between the city’s Communications Department and non-profit organizations and with homeownership programs
  • Provide gap financing support for down payment assistance (e.g., a low-income tax credit or tax abatement program), wrap-around educational services for first-time homebuyers, and credit-building programs in all major languages
  • Target housing rehabilitation programs in historically underserved neighborhoods that help reserve wealth by providing economic support for homeowners vulnerable to predatory behaviors
  • Establish safeguards that support individuals in moving from renting to ownership
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