News Release Header
For Immediate Release:
August 31, 2020
Media Contact:
Francis Izquierdo
[email protected]

Commissioner Eileen Higgins’ legislation to study the use of public land for affordable housing approved by the Board of County Commissioners

MIAMI-DADE – Today (Aug. 31), the Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners approved legislation sponsored by Commissioner Eileen Higgins, District 5, directing the Mayor’s administration to study the available options for the County to collaborate with other government, institutional, and private entities in order to aggregate land and create more affordable housing units for Miami-Dade residents, and to identify parcels that could be used to pilot the program. The item directs the administration to draw upon the work of University of Miami’s (UM) Land Access for Neighborhood Development “LAND” Tool.

“Solving the affordable housing crisis in Miami-Dade requires innovative proposals and political will to make hard choices,” said Commissioner Higgins. “Identifying, aggregating, and utilizing public and institutionally owned land for affordable housing is exactly the type of innovative proposal we need. Utilizing the University of Miami’s LAND Tool, every piece of public-owned land exists in one database, creating a path towards unlocking that land for affordable housing or other public good. Local governments around the country have done this for over 100 years. While it will not be easy, it’s another step towards providing housing relief to Miami-Dade residents.”

In 2019, the UM Office of Civic and Community Engagement debuted the LAND tool, a free, online mapping tool that identified more than 500 million square feet of vacant, unused, or underutilized land across the County and its municipalities. The LAND tool provides a snapshot of the location, size, and ownership of the properties owned by the County and its 34 municipalities, community development agencies, and religious and educational institutions that could be used to house low-income residents.

Robin Bachin, Ph.D., Assistant Provost for Civic and Community Engagement at UM said: “Our goal in creating the LAND tool was to have County and municipal governments utilize it to promote affordable housing and equitable community development. This legislation shows the powerful impact that comes from policy makers partnering with university researchers to build capacity within our community.”

Commissioner Higgins first introduced the idea of “Unlocking Public Land for Public Good” at the October 2019 Community Disparities Subcommittee, of which she serves as the Chair. At the meeting, Frank S. Alexander, Co-Founder & Senior Advisor of the Center for Community Progress and Sam Nunn Professor of Law at Emory University School of Law, presented on how other communities have taken individual plots owned by different public entities and aggregated and utilized the land for affordable housing. Alexander outlined potential paths forward for Miami-Dade County to create a process that the community can support.

For more information, please contact Francis Izquierdo, Communications Coordinator for Miami-Dade County District 5 Commissioner Eileen Higgins at [email protected] or 305-375-5924.